Harding Stadium in Steubenville Continues to Upgrade
Bleachers on visitors side receives facelift
STEUBENVILLE — Much like a fine wine, Harding Stadium keeps getting better with age.
One of the finest high school facilities in Ohio, Harding Stadium opened in 1930. Construction began in 1929, and the stadium was completed at a cost of $45,000.
Since 2000, the Steubenville school system has made continual upgrades to the facility. Consider the following:
∫ A new lighting system has been installed.
∫ New concession stands and restrooms were constructed.
∫ The stadium’s surround sound system was upgraded.
∫ New west end zone stands were installed.
∫ The press box was expanded.
∫ The scoreboard structure has been remodeled.
∫ The home stands were remodeled.
∫ A new visitors locker room was constructed.
In 2018, the Calvin Jones statue, located outside of the stadium, was unveiled prior to Big Red’s home opener. Designed by world-renowned sculptor Jerry McKenna, the statue, base included, stands 6-foot-8 and is located along Calvin Jones Way. The statue shows Jones holding his helmet and looking to the future.
In addition to the statue, new fencing and pillars were installed around the main entrances to the stadium.
When Big Red opens its 2019 season against Taylor Allderdice, fans will see more changes in Death Valley.
The bleachers on the visitors side received a facelift that, basically, will give them the same look as the home side of the stadium.
“Our goal is to give all fans the best seat in the house,” Steubenville High School Principal Ted Gorman said. “If you look at our visitors side and if you happen to watch a game from over there, you realize they are excellent seats.
“There is a section over there for teachers. Every now and then, I go over there. Our stadium was built in 1930, and we have been fortunate enough to have the funding to constantly be making improvements to it.”
Gorman said the cost of the project is more than a $1 million, and the funding is coming from the school district.
“The bleachers on the visitors side have been there since 1965, and they were falling apart,” Gorman said. “Things just got pretty bad, and there were some major weaknesses in certain areas.
“Basically, the wooden bleachers that were once there were replaced with concrete. Over the course of time, the concrete got weak. We replaced the concrete and put four coats of sealant over it to give it some additional life.”
Gorman explained the renovation work also involved putting in all new stairwells entering the stands. He said all the old railing was torn out, and new iron railing was installed in its place.
“We did that basically to match those railings with the rest of the stadium,” he said.
Other work performed as part of the project included:
∫ Re-doing the wall on the back of the stands. Gorman noted the challenge here involved not disturbing any of the graves in adjacent Union Cemetery.
∫ Restoring the eye beams that support the bleachers. They were stripped down, cleaned and repainted.
∫ Installing a drainage system in order to allow the walls to last a little longer.
Gorman added that the district looked at replacing the entire section in order to make it match the work done in the west end zone.
“We realized there was a big price difference between replacing and restoring, so we went the restoring route,” he said.
He added that Aug. 10 was the deadline for finishing all the work.
The district had looked at adding restrooms on the visitors side, but those plans have been put on hold for now.
Looking ahead, Gorman said more improvements are planned for the stadium.
“Personally, my dream would be to put a red metal roof over the upper section we have for the handicapped,” he said. “Right now, we have to rent canopy for special events. This season, we’ll be renting at least twice.”
A canopy is put in place for the annual celebration of Legends Night, and another will go when Big Red honors its 1984 state championship team during Week 4.
“Things are really coming together at the stadium” Gorman said. “We’re trying to build things to last. Through the renovations we have made the last four to five years, I think people understand we are doing things the right way.
“We want to keep restoring and upgrading our stadium. We want it to be a showcase for high school sporting events for years to come”
Harding Stadium will host at least 14 football games this season. Big Red has eight home contests on its schedule and Catholic Central six.