LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – The start of the high school football season is three months away, but questions already surround the use of one Limestone County Schools stadium for the 2016 schedule.
Elkmont fans have expressed concern over whether the team will be able to play at Boss Hill Stadium in the fall.
Limestone County Schools Executive Director of Operations Tommy Hunter said those Red Devil supporters can rest easy.
“The stadium has not been condemned,” he said.
The issue stems from a recent inspection of the stadium and its bleachers by a structural engineer.
The district’s maintenance staff regularly inspects the school system’s facilities to ensure their safety, but with some schools and their stadiums starting to show their age, the district will also call on structural engineers as an added precaution.
“It was just kind of a routine thing that we said we might want to get someone else to look at this because we are not experts. And so we want to bring in an expert,” said Hunter.
The structural engineer recommended a few minor maintenance issues to be addressed before the 2016 season kicks off.
“It’s the metal bracing behind the bleachers,” Hunter said. “They can still use the bleachers, just not a certain section until we get those reinforcements. But by this fall, the whole stadium will be ready for everyone to sit in. We’re never going to do anything to put our people at risk and we’re always going to air on the side of caution.”
The bleacher fix won’t be too costly, but Hunter said the structural engineer also recommended that the school system start putting a plan in place to upgrade the stands at Boss Hill Stadium in the next year or two.
“We knew they were old,” he said. “We knew that eventually we were going to have to replace them and we didn’t know exactly when we were going to do that, so we’re trying to make plans.”
One option focuses on replacing the bleachers along the home sideline. It will cost roughly $800,000 and take at least four months to complete.
The school system is also considering building a new stadium on an adjacent lot, but it will have a price tag of $3 million to $5 million. Boss Hill Stadium cannot be expanded at its current location.
“The stadium is surrounded on two sides by public road, so you don’t have much room,” Hunter said. “On the home side, you have to move the light poles and there’s an embankment right behind there and a baseball field.”
Superintendent Tom Sisk and the Limestone County School Board are currently examining the best solution.
Meanwhile, the Red Devils will play their spring game at Boss Hill Stadium on Tuesday. The unsafe portion of the home stands will be roped off for the event, but, again, it will be repaired before the start of the 2016 season.