Outdoor Bleacher Renovations: Where to Start

 

Where to start? With an inspection of course. If you haven’t had one within the last 12 months, get one scheduled and let them know this inspection has dual purpose: code compliance and renovation/upgrades options. Tell them what your initial renovation needs are and what you would like to do so they can be sure to give you everything you need. Be transparent about a turnaround time too – if you know you need to make renovations within the next three months, you don’t want to wait a month for your report.

Once you have an inspection in hand, look at your report. If you have deficient items, what are they? Do you have a clear understanding of what needs to be fixed? Is it a code compliance issue that needs to be addressed? Ask all the questions and get all of your answers – especially if you plan on doing a renovation yourself.

What is the End Goal?

Is overall safety your number one goal? (Ahem, the answer is always yes). But seriously, if you’re looking at the overall project from a safety standpoint, you’ll want to be sure you are fully aware of code compliance when it comes to renovations and upgrades.

Replacing wood planks with aluminum is easily done and cost effective. However, if you are changing seats, adding aisle-ways, rails, etc. you need to take into consideration that your modifications meet code compliance of a “new” structure.

Other goals might include a larger seating capacity, ADA seating options and access, or a press box.  Again, it all goes back to the structure.

Let’s crash-course a little Code Compliance, shall we?

It all starts with the Ohio Administrative Code:

4101:1-10-01 [Effective 11/1/2017] Means of egress.

1029.1.1 Bleachers. Bleachers, grandstands and folding and telescopic seating, that are not building elements, shall comply with Chapters 1-4 of ICC 300.

The (International Code Council) ICC-300 actually has 5 chapters and that is where existing bleachers are addressed:

Chapter 5 Existing Bleachers, Folding and Telescopic Seating, and Grandstands, Section 501.4:

“Alterations. Alterations to any tiered seating shall conform with the requirements of this standard for new construction. Portions of the structure not altered and not affected by the alteration are not required to comply with the requirements in this standard for a new structure.”

But Ohio doesn’t enforce Chapter 5, so it gets a little muddy here doesn’t it?  While it’s not enforced, it IS the example of the highest standard of compliance and safety. So while you “don’t have to,” you absolutely should follow the guidelines if not for any other reasons than safety and reduction of liability and risk – those should be reason enough to look into the requirements of Chapter 5.

It all boils down to safety - ease of access for patrons and means of egress. Codes weren’t created to make our world full of crazy rules, they were created to keep our community and our children safe.

We at FEC will always reference Chapter 5 when it comes to code compliance, renovations, and upgrades because our ultimate goal is to keep you safe.

Back to the Bottom Line

You have options with renovations. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box either. If you know another district is tearing down their bleachers, see if salvaging their aluminum planks is possible to help you reduce costs when replacing wood planks with aluminum. And always – if you choose to do a renovation yourself, call in an expert, before for advice, during with questions and afterward to have them inspect your work, they will likely see what you don’t know to look for.

 

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New Year, New Budget Planning: Outdoor Bleachers

 

When it comes to outdoor bleachers and grandstands, there aren’t too many differences when it comes to research before budgeting. Even the International Code Council (ICC) views them as the same entity when it comes to code compliance, defining bleachers as:

 “Tiered seating supported on a dedicated structural system and two or more rows high (see Grandstands).

Grandstand: Tiered seating supported on a dedicated structural system and two or more rows high (see Bleachers).” – ICC-300: Chapter 2, Definitions

As we mentioned in our previous post, New Year, New Budget Planning: Telescopic Bleachers, start with an inspection and do your research. If you know for a fact that you want to demo your existing bleachers, maybe an inspection isn’t necessary – but there may be options that you’re unaware of that may point you toward a renovation rather than a full replacement. If your aluminum planks are good, but your understructure needs to be replaced, there are options that may reduce costs for you. And if your understructure is solid but you want new seating – that is an option too. Ultimately, make sure that you and/or your consultant/contractor fully understand what it means to be code compliant, especially upgrades. We’ll go into this more next week with Renovation Options.

Do Your Research: What’s on Your Wish List?

  • Know what you like and don’t like about your current seating and seating in other districts.
  • Evaluate your major concerns with your current seating.
  • Know what is possible in the space you have available.
  • Know what extras you are willing to invest in either now or down the road.
  • Have a clear understanding of what it will take to maintain your new seating.
  • Realistic time frame from signed PO to installation date

Know what you like and don’t like about your current seating and seating in other districts.

This is everything from VIP Seating, Student Sections, Press Boxes, and access to the understructure. Maybe a neighboring district has riser boards that match their district color pallet that you like or perhaps another district has a Press Box that is too large or too small. Take some time to do some inventory. What creature comforts do you want to make sure are available for the community? Backrests/VIP seating is a great way to offset the costs of new bleachers, an annual fee for VIPS could go toward preventative maintenance plans lessening the financial burden.

Evaluate your major concerns with your current seating.

What is your Why? Why are you investing at this time? Are you outgrowing your current seating unit? Are your current bleachers unsafe for patrons? Take all of this into consideration to course correct for the next installation.

Know what is possible in the space you have available.

Maybe you have a hillside bleacher that will make design and installation a bit more complex or perhaps you’ve outgrown your current seating and need to make room for additional seats. Make sure to talk to the experts that can explain what is required of your space – and what is possible to get you exactly what you want.

Know what extras you are willing to invest in either now or down the road.

Are you wanting to add a Press Box down the road? Or maybe you want to add VIPS seating in lots of 10 at a time to reduce costs up front – whatever it is that you want down the road, be sure to include it in your initial plans so that when the time comes, you’re not losing seats or having to make a tremendous amount of upgrades to get you what you want.

Have a clear understanding of what it will take to maintain your new seating.

Did you know that according to the Ohio Building Code, the ICC-300, and Manufacturer’s standards you are required to have an annual inspection. But don’t stop at checking the task off the list, make sure you are looking at your report, a good report will have specific action items needed to maintain your bleachers. Keep in mind too that with the change in weather – aluminum contracts and expands which means you’ll need to check hardware and structural supports throughout the year, not just during inspections.

Realistic time frame from signed PO to installation date

As soon as you start to “think” you want to invest in outdoor bleachers, talk with an expert to make sure you are aware of delivery and installation times. This time of year gets heavy with RFPs and orders and the summer time slots fill fast for installation so the sooner you are aware of what you need, the sooner you’ll have a realistic understanding of what is possible for a completion date.

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Where There is a Will, There is a Way: Telescopic Bleacher Buying Options

I’m sure if we were to sit down with you and discuss your current telescopic bleacher situation, the first thing you would say is, “Well, that sounds nice, but we don’t have the funds for that.” Capital improvement projects are an investment, and investments take time so if you don’t already have funds set aside, have a donor prospect or dedicated fundraising team with time to prepare, your options may seem limited.

Seem is the key word.

You do have options.

You can streamline the process so it’s more efficient. Rather than soliciting with your own Request for Proposals (RFP), Sourcewell, previously NJPA, is a national cooperative purchasing agent that has already done the work for you. Going with a purchasing agent like Sourcewell means they’ve already vetted out the bidding process to bring you the best value to fit your needs.

“Cooperative purchasing is “Procurement conducted by, or on behalf of, one or more Public Procurement Units” as defined by the American Bar Association Model Procurement Code for State and Local Governments.
Sourcewell's analysts streamline the procurement process by developing RFPs and IFBs for national, competitive solicitations that meet or exceed local requirements. Our rigorous process is continually refined to best meet member needs and allows us to offer exceptional products from nationally acclaimed vendors.” - www.sourcewell-mn.gov

Hussey Seating Company, our featured Telescopic Bleacher provider, is an approved vendor for Sourcewell providing you access to the best value pricing for more than just you bleachers, including:

  • Seating Solution Design Services
  • Telescopic Bleacher Seating
  • Telescopic Platform Seating
  • Stadium Seating
  • Arena Seating
  • Fixed Auditorium Seating
  • Clarin by husseyseating Portable Chairs
  • Grandstand Seating Planks & Covers
  • Safety Inspections, Parts & Services

Did you see that? Even Safety Inspections, Parts & Services is on this list – giving you the advantage of combined buying power and the ability to cost effectively do your due diligence we mentioned in our previous post.

Another option: Grants

The grants we hear about most often stem from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Safety Grants. If your bleachers are unsafe, for either you (staff and set up team) or your patrons, you’ll want to look here and see what is possible. The application process can rigorous, but it can be helpful when it comes to replacement, upgrades, and repair.

“Wait, what does a device to move bleachers have to do with safety and security?
Turns out the rules for the grant program were written to include a broad definition of “safety” for students and employees.
So not only are metal detectors and trauma kits covered, but also floor-cleaning machines, cutting/slicing equipment and “safe” food fryers.” - What is ‘safety’?, The Columbus Dispatch

So what does a device to move bleachers have to do with safety?

Bleachers with an Integral Power System have the advantage over manually operated bleachers by not only reducing damages to your equipment but they provide a more safe way for your staff to open and close the bleachers. There are no ergonomically correct bleacher operating moves for manual bleachers. You’re usually walking backwards pulling when opening and pushing all bent over with your head down when closing with no way to keep your back straight during either. Regardless of the type of bleachers, you have to bend and pull and bend and push.  When you are pulling the bleachers open or pushing them closed, you end up reaching the open or closed position by getting a big slam to a halt, causing impact to your back, legs, arms, shoulders and neck as well as the possibility of crushed fingers or smashing your face into them from slipping and falling just to name a few.

There have been some unique devices that have been fabricated and provided here and there but nothing reduces injury hazards like adding integral power to your bleachers. Just a reminder, only properly trained personnel should operate the bleachers to further keep safety at the forefront.

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Introducing: Gym Safety Sessions

  Have you ever felt like you need a refresher course on the proper operation of your equipment? Or maybe you have new personnel that need to be trained on safety and operation. Whatever the reason, we want to help. What We’re Offering: To come to your facility for a 2-hour gym safety training (timing may vary based on attendees and…