Bridgeport grandstands come down
BRIDGEPORT — Tuesday, July 9, 2019, will be a day Bridgeport High School alumni, especially football players and cheerleaders, will soon never forget.
Crews from Edgeco, Inc., of Lansing, started demolition procedures yesterday on the covered grandstands that had graced Bill Jobko Stadium for more than 100 years. The mostly wooden structure had been deemed unsafe several years ago due to neglect and years of flooding.
“They had to come down due to safety issues. We had no choice,” Bridgeport Exempted Village Schools Board of Education President Heidi Terek said. “As an alumni member, yes, I’m sad, but it had to be done.”
The Bulldogs haven’t played a football game on Perkins Field since the 2017 season as they split games between Martins Ferry’s Dave Bruney Football Complex and Red Devil Stadium in St. Clairsville last fall. However, the 2019 campaign will be played solely on the artificial surface in Martins Ferry.
The board of education had unanimously accepted a bid of nearly $50,000 from Edgco. The price tag includes $42,000 to raze the structure, with the remainder going towards stone and abatement.
“They were inspected and we knew they had several issues from multiple floods,” former Bridgeport Schools Superintendent Zac Shutler explained during a prior board meeting. “I think it’s tough for a lot of people in the community because those grandstands just didn’t grow up with people, they existed prior to those people being born. It’s tough when you see those type of things disappear, but the memories don’t disappear … the time you spent at that field doesn’t disappear.”
A ‘Final Farewell’ ceremony honoring the grandstands was held during Alumni Weekend in 2018. The alumni band performed the schools fight song and alma mater as fans gathered on Perkins Field and sang along.
“It’s bittersweet,” board member Jerry Moore said. “There’s a lot of history there. A lot of great memories. It’s like when we closed the old school, we looked at it as moving on to something bigger and better.”
However, finding a suitable piece of property inside the district for such a complex hasn’t been easy. Board members are doing their best to locate such a site
Eric Matyskiela, president and director of engineering with Matyskiela & Grant, Inc. of Wheeling, told the board in late spring that after doing an assessment of the stadium in early May, his company did not recommend repairs because of numerous flooding over its life span.
“We’ve found quite a few things that concern us through visual observations,” he said. “There was not one element that would say shut it down, but we didn’t think it was economically feasible to do repairs because there are so many issues.
“We don’t recommend repairing the facility.”
Bill Jobko Stadium, as well as the fieldhouse and concession stand, are nestled along US 40. All three structures sustained damage from flooding over the years, something that will also hamper construction of a new facility because of the flood plain in which it sits along Big Wheeling Creek.