Stewart Field is going to look a bit different this fall, but it is for its own good.
Approved by the Aberdeen School District board on Aug. 9, work will begin soon to tear down the roof and press box on the south side of the venerable riverside stadium.
The south side, also known as the home-side grandstands, will be without a roof for the upcoming football and girls soccer seasons for Aberdeen High School and Grays Harbor College.
Once the fall season is over, work will begin — weather permitting — on a new roof structure. Rognlin’s Construction of Aberdeen will handle the demolition of the roof structure. The grandstands itself, as well as the west and north grandstands, will remain.
Work on taking the roof down will begin and be completed before school starts in September.
“The stadium has been many things to this community, and this is an investment to do it right,” Aberdeen High School Principal Sherri Northington said. “Al Gozart and Rognlin’s are very aware of that.”
A structural study of the stadium, focusing on the home-side grandstands, was conducted in late May-early June. The study, according to Northington, showed a weakened structural integrity of the roof, which made it unsafe. With people walking on top of the roof to get to the large press box, the roof could have been an accident waiting to happen.
Renovations of the west and north grandstand structures came when the Aberdeen Natatorium was torn down in 2000. The last time work on the south grandstand structure happened was approximately in the early 1990s.
“We brought in outside consultants to look at the structure — the trusses are rotting,” Northington added. “It is being done now, because it is failing. Timing is of the essence here. We want to get it off and get a new one on there as soon as we can. Weather pending, after the fall season, we will be waiting for when to get the new roof started.”
According to a handout at the Aug. 9 school board meeting, the removal of the roof will cost the school district $113,300 — remove the roofing, the press box roof trusses and posts and disposal.
Since 2012, three other Grays Harbor-area high schools have had stadium issues to contend with — the fire and reconstruction of the Jack Rottle Field grandstands in Montesano; the demolition of the Davis Field grandstands in Elma; and the closure of Ocosta High School’s Griffin Field grandstand enclosure/press box.
Northington and Aaron Roiko, Aberdeen’s athletic director, both noted that AHS football and girls soccer, Grays Harbor College girls soccer and youth football and soccer games will still be played at Stewart Field this fall.