MSHS upgrades: Bleachers, tennis courts receive some attention

A look at the new bleachers at Marquette Senior High School

MARQUETTE — Two more athletics upgrades have been completed and are ready for the upcoming school year at Marquette Senior High School.

In June, new bleachers were installed in the main gym, while in July, resurfacing of the school’s eight tennis courts was finished.

The modern bleachers are a glowing red color with a white block “M” edged in black in the middle of each side. They replace the old wooden bleachers, which had been in place since the school was built in 1965.

MSHS is following suit with Gwinn High School, which installed new bleachers in its gym last summer. Westwood High School is putting in new bleachers.

The upgrade was necessary for a number of reasons, including safety and spectator comfort, according to MSHS athletic director Alex Tiseo.

“The new bleacher project has been part of an ongoing year-long planning process as the school continues to host more events here in the gymnasium,” he said. “Not only do we have volleyball, boys and girls basketball and other athletics events, but we also have a wide array of academic recognition ceremonies, Spotlight on the Arts concerts, things like that, in addition to our largest event of the year, which is graduation.

“When you have all of those events taking place in the gym that brings in a large amount of friends, families, fans and spectators both from the Marquette community and visiting communities, we wanted to make sure we had bleachers that are not only safe but comfortable as well.”

The installation of the new bleachers cost $213,539, plus $15,320 to demolish the old bleachers. The project was headed by Interkal LLC, a spectator seating manufacturer in Kalamazoo, and the money came from Marquette Area Public Schools school bond fund.

These new bleachers can seat 2,300 spectators, which is estimated to be down from the 3,800 capacity of the old ones.

They also feature walkways, railings all the way up the steps, individual seats rather than a long row, handicap accessibility, and likely the best part, no gaping cracks for spectators to drop their belongings through.

Tiseo said while capacity may be reduced, the new bleachers are better for the long run.

“That’s certainly down a little bit,” he said. “But in terms of what it adds for meeting code requirements with some permanent walkways, handrails and handicap-accessible seating, that’s the reason for the downgrade in seating capacity.

“These new ones have individual seats, are much more comfortable and the lifespan will try to be as long as possible. We saw how long the original bleachers lasted us, but the yearly and annual maintenance on these new ones being the composite and plastic material that they are is much easier and much cheaper, and I think we’ll see these … last a long time.”

Also in the works over the summer was the resurfacing of the school’s tennis complex.

That project was completed recently and feature red courts with a charcoal gray outer surface.

That project was headed by Racquet Sports Inc. of Comstock Park and cost $51,410, part of which came out of the MAPS sinking fund and part from the Shiras Foundation.

“It’s been 10 or 11 years since the courts have seen an update,” Tiseo said. “Just getting cracks filled in and things like that. With the harsh (Upper Peninsula) winters and the summers that can sometimes be hot, you have a lot of contraction and expansion that takes place and wear and tear that takes place.

“Due to some generosity from the Shiras Foundation, who we have a multi-year partnership with, they’ve helped us pay for the resurfacing of the courts and we decided to go ahead and do that this year.

“Ideally your courts are going to last you between five and 10 years and we’re just about over that now, so it was definitely an update that was needed.”

Tiseo said the color choice for the new surface was meant to be in line with the rest of the school’s color scheme.

“The tennis court resurfacing was also a nice opportunity to work in some other colors to make it a school spirit piece,” he said. “The charcoal gray and red on the court just fits in with the new turf on the football field and we want ‘Marquette’ to be as visible as possible in and around the school.

“We want our students to be very excited not only to come to school but also to take place in as many extracurricular activities as possible and this definitely fits in line with that.”

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.