Cracks in bleachers. Water leaks. Mold.
These problems have cropped up at the stadium where Great Bridge High School’s football team plays. Now supporters want answers.
The student athletes “deserve to have a stadium that they can be proud of,” resident Dawn Bell said. “There’s no Wildcat pride there now.”
Great Bridge plays at Colon L. Hall Stadium at Great Bridge Middle, about a mile from the high school.
Such conditions hurt both the team and community, some backers told Chesapeake’s School Board on Monday night. Great Bridge went 2-8 last season and couldn’t field a junior varsity team.
School division leaders would like to improve the situation at Colon L. Hall, which was built in the 1960s between South Battlefield Boulevard and Mount Pleasant Road.
They even want to build a new stadium at the high school. Both items are in the Capital Improvement Plan, an annual list of desired large projects.
But those two items would cost almost $9.6 million, and they are competing with other needs.
“We don’t have unlimited funding,” board member Harry Murphy said.
The division’s list of improvements over the next five years totals more than $446 million. That includes space to expand full-day kindergarten and additions to Oscar Smith High and Hickory Middle, which are both well over capacity.
It also includes a replacement for Great Bridge Primary School, which is 57 years old.
After the meeting Monday, board members said the division should take care of any immediate cleanliness and safety issues at the stadium, with football practices beginning later this month.
A longer-term fix is not as easy. The division has dozens of schools, all with varying needs.
“You have to look at priorities,” said Jeff Bunn, who was re-elected as board chairman Monday.
In 2008, cracks were spotted in the concrete bleachers, the school’s capital improvement plan, or CIP, notes. An engineer determined they were structurally sound, and as a temporary fix, they were caulked and water-proofed. Still, water issues continued.
An independent evaluation in 2013 found the bleachers remained structurally sound.
But leaks remain, which creates an environment underneath the bleachers susceptible to mold.
There are no more temporary measures that could stop the problem, according to the CIP.
A recent study found it is feasible to build an athletics facility at Great Bridge High, including a small field house, concession stand, ticket booth and bathrooms at a cost of about $9.2 million.
Keeping the middle school facility in operation would require repairing bleachers and upgrading electrical services, among other fixes that would cost about $398,000.
The division could request money from the city for both Great Bridge items in 2018-19, according to the CIP.
In the meantime, division leaders are exploring other ways to help the Wildcats.
Great Bridge has lost more than 1,000 students in the past decade, and Bell urged the board to rezone, which could boost that population. The board plans to weigh rezoning options later this year.
For parents like John Weaver, whose son Nick plays football and will be a senior at Great Bridge, the fixes can’t come soon enough.
Poor conditions at the stadium, such as mold, bugs, and spiders put the team at a disadvantage, he said.
“Great Bridge is not being treated fair,” Weaver told the board.