From the Bench: Summer Right Time for BHS Sports Project Costing Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

By Jeff Toquinto on July 09, 2023 from Sports Blog via

As mentioned recently in this very blog, for the first time since anyone can remember, the Wayne Jamison Field complex is void of a six- or seven-figure summer project. Outside of basic maintenance and upkeep, things will be largely the same when students arrive for fall practice in August.
That, however, does not mean things will not be different on the athletic front as far as something shiny and new. In fact, there is a project that began shortly after the school year ended and is essentially complete.
When the 2023-24 school year begins, Bridgeport’s basketball teams, the volleyball squad, and wrestling team will be playing in front of something brand new. In particular, those watching them will enjoy the new edition that comes with a hefty six-figure price tag.
The new addition inside the BHS gymnasium are new bleachers on the home and visitors’ side. And according to recently departed Principal Matt DeMotto, they were desperately needed.
“Here’s what we’ve known about our bleachers for a long time. They have needed replacement,” he said. “They’ve been repaired many times throughout the years and, frequently, we’ve been told they were among the worst bleachers at any school in the state. We knew that they had to be replaced.”
Now, they have been. DeMotto said once the project was considered, Harrison County Schools officials were approached, and the process moved forward.
“We got it approved through the county,” said DeMotto.
When spectators arrive at the gymnasium, which also has its annual floor refinishing done by Harrison County Schools staff, they will see something different. And during games, there will be something gone that has long been a pet peeve of mine and many other fans of basketball.
“It’s going to be a little bit different; the look is going to be different. It’s going to be the same type of material. There is going to be one less row on the visitors’ side so we can finally get the home team and the visiting team out of the bleachers and into individual seats,” said DeMotto. “There will be a walking path behind them such as you would see at Robert C. Byrd High School for example.”
The lack of a path behind the benches has been the thing yours truly has been bothered with at Bridgeport. Actually, it is something that bothers me at most high schools that have the same setup. Understand, the setup at most schools has nothing to do with poor design, but rather, how the gyms were laid out decades ago.
Now, Bridgeport joins RCB as well as Notre Dame High School with gymnasiums that have a walkway between the players and the bleachers. No longer will people be going in front of the coaching staff and players on the bench as a contest is taking place.
“This is an improvement for sure,” said DeMotto. “We’ll still be able to seat over 1,000 in the gym, which is adequate for our size school.”
For those wondering how the project was funded, you can thank yourself for it. Actually, you can thank the voters throughout Harrison County.
“Facility money is paying for this. Without the levy (voters approve), this project probably doesn’t happen. It’s going to be right around $200,000,” said DeMotto.
Huffman Corporation has been the contractor. DeMotto also praised Danny Dennison, the head of maintenance for the Harrison County School District. He finished by saying there will be a solid look when the bleachers are tucked away as well.
“The bleachers will be branded a little bit. If you walked into the old bleachers, you would notice we would have like a tarp that would have our logo on it. That logo is now going to be in the bleachers and if you push (the bleachers) in you will be able to see the logo and other places as well,” said DeMotto.
The finishing touches of the project are expected to take place today, according to new Principal Renee Mathews. 

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