Logan High School to build new football stadium after engineer warns of potential 'partial collapse'

A letter from an engineer details a visit to the Logan High School stadium on Sept. 4. It includes concerns about the structural integrity of the bleachers, along with photos of visible damage.
By  | 

LOGAN, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Logan County School District is in the early stages of building a new high school football stadium due to safety concerns about the condition of the current stadium.

The Logan County Board of Education released a letter to WSAZ that was written by a structural engineer and addressed to the director of operational support at the school district.

The letter details the engineer's visit to the stadium on Sept. 4. It includes concerns about the structural integrity of the bleachers, along with photos of visible damage.

"We recommend that Logan County Schools consider a new modern grandstand structure to be built to replace this aging facility as soon as possible," the letter states. "At some point in the future, the bleachers will likely degrade to the extent that a partial collapse could occur."

The engineer determined the stadium is safe enough, for now at least, but recommended the school district block off certain areas and begin construction on a new facility.

"In our opinion, for this football season, it does not appear to be generally unsafe from a structural standpoint," the letter states. "However, based on the condition of the areas that were accessible for examination, we recommend that the upper eight to 10 rows be barricaded to prevent use. Use of the pressbox area would be acceptable. We make these recommendations in the interest of public safety with an appropriate degree of caution."

Logan County Schools requested the examination. We're told the board of education has already begun the process of having a new stadium constructed at Logan High School.

"During our visit, we noted several roof leaks in the locker room areas and sporadic areas of severely rusted structural steel members," the letter states. "There were some individual members that have lost a significant amount of material to rust."

The engineer, from Williamson Shriver Architects, Inc., also noted issues in the locker room building.

"These include unstable brick above the door openings, exposed sharp edges, and general stairstep-type settlement cracking," the letter states. "Some of these need attention in varying degrees to assure occupant safety, but are not as important since some of those areas are inaccessible to the public at this time. Problem areas should be barricaded accordingly."

According to the letter, the bleachers were originally built prior to the addition of the locker room facility in 1961. Crews last renovated the bleachers in 1998 when they made "extensive structural repairs."

"In our opinion, much of the deteriorated steel issues at that time were the result of the masonry structure below having been built in direct contact with the steel members which accelerated the rusting," the engineer wrote about the 1998 project. "Moisture from many roof leaks also contributed to the deterioration. After steel repairs were made, the masonry was patched since the locker rooms were still in full use. Wood seat boards were also replaced with aluminum."

Based on the engineer's estimate, the cost of renovating again would "likely exceed" the cost of building a new stadium entirely.

The engineer stressed that many areas of the stadium were "obscured or inaccessible" during the Sept. 4 visit for a variety of reasons. "As previously mentioned, masonry prevented observation of much of the structural steel in the vicinity of the locker rooms. This is very significant because those areas were the ones that required the most reinforcement during hte 1998 repairs." Other areas were blocked by supplies and "thick vegetation." Finally, the engineer said he could not access a "sizable portion" of the locker room facility because doors were locked and keys were not available.