Bridgeport To Play Football Games At Martins Ferry Again

Perkins Field in good shape, but bleachers still declared unsafe

BRIDGEPORT — It’s been nearly two years since the 100-year-old home bleachers at Bill Jobko Stadium in Brookside were declared unsafe after an inspection by M&G Architects on Wheeling.

Bridgeport High School was forced to play its 2018 ‘home’ games at the Dave Bruney Football Complex in Martins Ferry and Red Devil Stadium in St. Clairsville. That will be the case for the 2019 season, and possibly, the 2020 season, according to Bridgeport Exempted Village Schools Superintendent Zac Shutler.

“I think that would be accurate,” he noted.

“The plan right now is to play all five varsity football games in 2019 at Martins Ferry,” Shutler said during a recent board of education meeting. “There is a chance that we could play junior high on the (Perkins) field, but we wouldn’t have a visitors lockerroom, concession stands would be an issue and restrooms would be an issue. It’s not really suited if we take those grandstands down, and they will come down, for varsity games.

“The field is in fantastic shape. They play baseball on it right now and we’re still having it taken care of by a lawn company. It’s just a matter of getting the grandstands down. If we look at it objectively from a varsity football standpoint, even with the field being playable, it would be very difficult to hold a varsity game there because the visitors wouldn’t have lockerrooms and showers, we wouldn’t have standing restrooms with running water, and we wouldn’t have concession stands.

“We are working through the process with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and it’s complicated. The longer it draws out I think there are some definitive hurdles. All options are really on the table. Re-location would be ideal, but we might be in a situation where we look at where the facility is and a total renovation of it.”

While nothing has been etched in stone, talks are ongoing.

“Everything is on the table. It’s going to be a long road and it’s going to take a lot of great ideas, collaboration and a lot of understanding,” he said. “We’ve been very open during this process with the community. People have asked a lot of questions, but we released the M&G report on our website and Twitter page. People can go there and read it in its entirety. We’ve been very open with our discussions with FEMA in hoping they would lead to some options, re-location-wise, but that has proven to be more difficult than I think we realized.

“When we say there isn’t really a lot of new information to release, there isn’t. We still have a long road to go and all options are on the table as far as the facility.”

The M&G report listed various reasons for mostly wooden grandstands be razed.

Bridgeport played three games at St. Clairsville and two at Martins Ferry last season.

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