A Grand Reopening: Construction completed on new District Stadium stands, increased capacity makes for true superfan experience

Matt Antonic, Sports Editor

The Blue Valley football team has yet another amenity to brag about this season when they take to the field in the newly renovated District Stadium.

Since last December, construction crews have been working on the project, rebuilding the home stands from the ground up. The finishing touches were applied shortly before the start of the school year.

Athletic Director Matt Ortman said the project was smooth sailing until May when a bizarre weather pattern had other ideas in mind.

“We fell a little bit behind due to the snow we had in May, along with all the other rain,” he said.

A fast finish by the workers of McPherson Construction got the work done before the school year.

With all the construction done, fans will now enter the stadium and see a grandstand bearing almost no resemblance to the structure it replaced.

A new brick façade will greet Tiger Supporters as they enter the District Stadium, supporting the structure on both sides and in the back.

Replaced with brand new bleachers, the new stand is nearly 20 feet longer than its predecessor, allowing fans more space to move about. The old metal railings have been replaced by actual guard railings, and the stand is now uniform in size.

The last renovation to the home grandstand took place over 25 years ago, in 1986.

Ortman said the renovations were absolutely necessary, citing the harsh Midwest weather the stadium has had to endure.

“The stadium had sustained a lot of damage from a couple of windstorms that came through, and part of the back of the stadium was ripped off,” he said. “We needed something a little bit stronger.”

Ortman also said the new grandstand will help reduce cramping with increased capacity.

Capacity for the grandstand has been increased to 2,400, bringing the stadium’s capacity as a whole to more than 4,000.

The visitors side, most recently rebuilt in 2006, will not see any changes other than standard cleaning.

Along with the grandstand, a new press box was erected at the top of the stand, a warm welcome for scorekeepers, public address announcers and coaches who use the booth for the duration of games.

“It’s a little bit wider and a little bit deeper, and there are a couple of extra spaces for some media outlets,” he said. “The media personnel will no longer have to remain inside the cramped press box existing previously. The people in the press box will also have their own elevator to use.”

It’s not just the scorers and coaches who will be pleased with the progress.

Radio and TV stations will find much more convenient access and technology upgrades.

“[The press box is] a lot more technologically advanced,” Ortman said. “I know they put in Wi-Fi and some new outlets so that when Metro Sports or 610 Radio want to broadcast the games, it will be a lot easier.”

Metro Sports has occasionally broadcasted the Hy-Vee Game of the week at BV, and 610 or 810 Radio are commonly present to cover big games.

Football Coach Eric Driskell said he is ready for a new season and is excited for what the new stadium can bring.

“We’re really excited,” he said. “It’s great for us, and it’s great for Blue Valley High School.”

As a former student and longtime coach, Driskell said there is nothing like playing at BV.

“The crowd has a huge impact on how we play,” he said. It’s loud, it’s proud and it’s just an unbelievable atmosphere”.

Other projects to the stadium since its 1969 construction are at a wide range, including the construction of the concession stands, an electronic scoreboard, replacement of visitor bleachers, permanent ticket booths, resurfacing of the track and the replacement of grass with FieldTurf.

The stadium had its grand re-opening under the Friday night lights on Sept. 6 for the BV vs. Gardner Hy-Vee Game of the Week, commencing a new era of Tiger Football.