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Arena bleachers come down

May 16, 2012 12:00AM

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Derick Mercer, Heartland Seating, Shawnee, Kan., removes planks from old bleachers in John Lance Arena.

Crews this week began dismantling row upon row of old wood bleachers in Pittsburg State University’s John Lance Arena. Placed end-to-end, the boards would stretch more than five miles, according to Brad Peterson, owner of Heartland Seating, of Shawnee, Kan.

“This is unbelievably high quality lumber,” Peterson said. “It is all Grade A southern pine and douglas fir. This is wood that has not been available for about 20 years.”

Peterson said the only problem with the wood is that it has holes in it where it was attached to the steel frames. Despite the holes, Peterson said he already has a couple of prospective buyers. Until a deal is made, the wood will be stored in Topeka.

After the wood is removed, the steel frames will be dismantled and melted down for use in other products.

“It was important to us to know that as much of the old material as possible could be reused or recycled,” said Brad Wells, director of athletics operations.

Peterson said the PSU bleachers were top of the line in their day and at one time certainly looked great.

“One of the problems with wood is that when they are new and they have that new finish, they look great, but over the years they tend to show their age,” Peterson said.

Another problem with the current bleachers is that they are open and not ADA compliant. The new seating will be enclosed and will be designed to accommodate persons with mobility issues.

The bleacher replacement is part of a larger renovation plan for the Weede PE Building and surrounding area. In April, a $1.2 million gift from Alan and Roberta Whetzel allowed the John Lance Arena portion of the project to get underway.

©2012 Pittsburg State University