UPDATE 8/29/13 @ 6 p.m.
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- While it may be a sold out crowd Friday during high school football at Putnam Stadium in Ashland, it will be with 900 less seats.
School officials have been forced to block off hundreds of seats because of structural damages. There are nearly 4,000 seats left in the aging stadium, but officials say it will be a challenge to find seats for everyone.
"It's clearly the only decision to be made," Athletic Director Mark Swift said. "Safety is priority number one, in regards to everyone concerned regarding an athletic event."
School officials said they are aiming to have a fully renovated stadium by this time next fall.
The first phase of the planned $5.1 million renovation project will be replacing the bleachers in the 75-year-old stadium.
Thursday, the Ashland Independent School Board met in special session to open bids for demolition.
Finance Director Tim Walters says 12 bids were received. Walters says the lowest bid is just under $60,000, while the highest is almost $250,000.
While there was no specific budget specifically for demolition, Walters says the board expects this part of the project to cost between $200,000 and $300,000.
Walters said the demolition bid should be awarded sometime next month.
"The architect has the bids and they go through a qualification process for all the bidders," Walters said. "Then we'll make a decision [on] whether we're within budget or over budget, and then we'll know whether we can proceed with the project."
The renovation project is expected to occur in two phases:
Phase 1 calls for razing the stadium’s current structure and
replacing the seating with enclosed stadium bleachers. The first phase will also include new home and visiting locker rooms, plumbing and additional restrooms on the north side, additional concession areas and lighting. The first phase will come at a price of approximately $2.2 million, according the renovation foundation website.
Phase 2 includes artificial turf and other field and stadium amenities.
"It's a school venue, but it's also a jewel for the city of Ashland," said Superintendent Steve Gilmore. "We realize we're overhauling a piece of tradition."
To date, funds raised for the stadium project total about $345,000.
Ashland’s first home game is scheduled for August 30.
The stadium was built in 1937 for $6,500.
Putnam Stadium, located in Ashland, is going through much of the same thing. That long standing piece of Tomcat history is undergoing a multimillion-dollar facelift.
"It's a school venue, but it's also a jewel for the city of Ashland," says school Superintendent Steve Gilmore. "We realize we're overhauling a piece of tradition."
The first phase of the renovation will be replace the bleachers. That will happen after the Ashland Tomcats play their last home game of the 2012 season.
"Our part is to give fans better seating, better view all the way around," Gilmore says. "It will be a much safer stadium, the whole thing is about safety and the well being of our students, staff and spectators who come to the games."
Gilmore says the original stadium cost $6,500 to build in 1937. The new overhaul eventually, will come with price tag of more than $5 million.
"I'm super excited," says Tate Dowdy.
Dowdy is an 8th-grader hoping to make his own memories on this field one day, like so many players of so many generations before him.
"It feels so good to be around so much tradition." Dowdy says. "It'll be great to put on that maroon uniform."
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