Monte grandstands may not be ready in time for kickoff

The hope of having new grandstands at Rottle Field in Montesano in time for the start of fall football is fading as the Montesano School District waits for insurance money to come in.

“We’re getting closer,” Superintendent Dan Winter said. At the previous public meeting to hone the design of possible replacement grandstands, Winter had hoped to be able to make a presentation to the school board by Feb. 21, but there’s still no final number from the insurance company on how much they can spend on a replacement.

It’s somewhat of a slow process in general, Winter said, but it’s complicated in this case by the age of the old grandstands destroyed by a fire in September. It’s tough to nail down an exact replacement cost for the 1940’s era structure, partly because of updates to building codes and materials since that time.

The district is in contact with its insurer several times a week, and Winter is hopeful to make the design presentation at the school board’s next meeting on March 21.

In the tight timeline proposed by McGranahan Architects of Tacoma, bidding for the construction contract would have started in March. That timeline narrowly allowed the project to be completed by the start the next football season, but the delay with the insurance money may make that an impossible goal.

“We’re to the point now where it’s probably going to be pretty tough to get it done by the start of the year. I think it’s more important to get what we want and get it done correctly than rushing to get something that’s not going to make the community feel good,” Winter said.

The preliminary design presented at a Jan. 16 public meeting at Montesano High School was widely supported. In the months since the grandstands burned, input from the community has focused on retaining the character of the wooden structure, an unusual material in most modern high school grandstands.

In the tentative plan, wood benches will sit on concrete risers, which provide a water-tight roof for the improved storage space under the stands. The maintenance cost of real wood in some areas of the structure may be offset by the exterior, which will be concrete made to look like cedar lap siding.The new structure will be about 10 feet closer to the field, eliminating a center stairway that was used as a third exit, but improving the view of the field for nearly all the roughly 1,250 seats. The number of columns holding up the roof are reduced by half.

Not knowing the final budget, Winter said, “There may have to be some tweaks to that, but trying to keep that basic design is our main goal.”

If the stands aren’t ready in time, the state-champion Bulldog football team may have to continue playing on other local fields as they did at the end of last season.

“It could mean playing some games on a Saturday rather than a Friday night, but we won’t even tackle that until we get a little bit closer to knowing our completion date,” Winter said.