Renovations at venerable Stadium Field in Parkersburg are "on schedule as of right now,'' according to PHS athletic director Lori Lowers.
The 90-year-old facility was forced to close its bleacher seating sections late last November after a visual inspection indicated the concrete structures were decaying and not safe for use.
Thus began a three-part, nearly $2 million project to replace the defects in time for the coming football season. All but $700,000 of that total must be raised privately.
"When they sprang that on us, it hit us fast and hard,'' Lowers said of the bleachers being condemned. "But there's been a huge community effort. Everybody's helping out, and everyone's trying to raise money every day.
"Our pee-wee football team just gave us a $1,000 check to help out. When we needed to take the [old] bleachers out, a crew of parents and kids helped. Little things like that to help save money and get the kids involved. Everybody's been working so hard, and a lot of people have donated time and effort.''
A group of students went door to door in the town's neighborhoods seeking donations for the project. Students and volunteers held a car wash fundraiser, while others sold T-shirts and bracelets bearing the phrase, "I Helped Save The Stadium.''
The football team's home opener is set for Aug. 30 against Warren Local (Ohio), and Lowers is hopeful the stadium will be ready for use by that time - even if the project isn't 100 percent complete.
"We're looking to finish just the home side - the press box side - and have it ready for games,'' Lowers said. "We'll be ready.''
Two Kanawha Valley teams are scheduled to make trips to Stadium Field this season - Capital on Sept. 20 and George Washington on Oct. 25.
Besides football, Stadium Field also hosts soccer games and middle school and private school athletic events.
Revenue from concession stand sales at football games helps fund the wrestling and band programs, and Stadium Field is the primary source of revenue for all the school's athletic programs through football and soccer ticket sales, reserved parking fees and sponsors signs that ring the facility.
So more teams are affected by the project than just the football squad, making renovations all the more imperative. Lowers noted there were other hurdles to clear.
"Our situation was compounded a little bit, and I don't think people all understood. They said, 'Why not just put aluminum over top of the old ones?' The issue is that Stadium Field is on the [National Register of Historic Places]. Whenever you're doing something with the historical society, you have to go with their rules and regulations. You've got to replace like with like.''
Donations may be sent to Parkersburg High School in care of Charlotte Potter, Stadium Field Committee, 2101 Dudley Ave., Parkersburg, WV 26101. Donations can be made online at PHSBigRedsFootball.com through PayPal.
The number of schools around the state kicking off their football games at 7 p.m. has risen by two to 19 this season.
Most of the schools are located in either the Northern or Eastern panhandles - Elkins, Frankfort, Greenbrier East, Hampshire, Hedgesville, Jefferson, Keyser, Madonna, Martinsburg, Montcalm, Musselman, Oak Glen, Petersburg, Spring Mills, Tyler Consolidated, Washington, Weir, Wheeling Central and Wheeling Park.
Still no movement among far-flung teams in either the AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference (which stretches into eight different counties) or the AA Cardinal Conference (six counties) to follow suit and ditch 7:30 kickoffs.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.