Bleacher update: Morristown High football team will try to tough it out at home this season

CLOSED: The press box and home stands are off-limits, scheduled for demolition. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
CLOSED: The press box and home stands are off-limits, scheduled for demolition. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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GOING, GOING... these stands, more than 80 years old, have been deemed unsafe. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
GOING, GOING… these stands, more than 80 years old, have been deemed unsafe. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

By Kevin Coughlin

Morristown High School’s football team — and its fans– will attempt to tough it out at Memorial Field all season without home bleachers.

The Morris School District had considered shifting some home games to Madison High School, because Morristown’s bleachers have been deemed unsafe.

But Colonials Athletic Director Smitty Horton said on Wednesday that the district has decided to rent bleachers, capable of seating 820 fans, to temporarily replace stands on the visitors’ side.

“We are not going to need other venues at this point,” Horton told Morristown Green.

The visiting stands will be replaced by...lawn chairs? Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The visiting stands will be replaced by rental bleachers to seat up to 820 fans. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“Our coaches as well as our players want to play home games on the Morristown High School field so we are doing what we can to make this happen,” he added in a message to MHS fans.

 

Horton said eight area venues were approached about hosting Morristown football games, but “unfortunately, extenuating circumstances will not allow this option,” he said, without elaborating.

Madison High School, it turns out, was unable to accommodate the Colonials, according to Morris District Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast.  Madison’s athletic director could not be reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

A “significant crack” discovered in the home bleachers during the spring prompted inspections and the immediate closure of the structure, which is more than 80 years old, Horton said in his message to fans.

A stream below the bleachers raises environmental issues that have complicated matters.

“As it stands right now, we will be replacing them with new ADA [handicapped-] accessible bleachers in the exact same footprint as the current bleachers,” Horton said.

Morristown High stands are sea of pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
BRING LAWN CHAIRS! Morristown High home bleachers, pictured here during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2013, will be closed for 2016 because of structural flaws. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The existing visitors bleachers could not support the extra weight of home fans, so the district is replacing those stands with rental bleachers, he said.

Spectators also will encouraged to bring chairs from home, to use along the visitor side fence and on the hill under the trees. The school band will face the crowd from chairs behind safety netting, Horton said.

The athletic director said school officials are taking “every possible precaution” to provide the safest environment for fans while the district explores options for a new sports complex.

“While we understand that this is not the ideal situation, we are confident that we will be able to create a safe and enjoyable environment,” Horton said. “We are looking forward to debuting our newly renovated sports complex in the near future. Thank you for your patience.”

Plans to upgrade the high school’s sports facilities will unfold over the next few months, said Pendergrast, the superintendent.

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