Like an aging movie star who still has talent but just needs a facelift to maintain the appearance of youth, Warren G. Harding High School's Mollenkopf Stadium will be getting some work done.
On Tuesday, the facility's west (home) side bleachers were removed and the wooden seating will be replaced with aluminum, as the east (visitors) side was done last year. The construction has a targeted completion date of Aug. 10, just in time for the Raiders' season opener Aug. 26 against Austintown Fitch.
The total estimated cost is $140,000.
Mollenkopf Stadium was originally built as a WPA (Work Progress Administration) project in the 1940s. The east side stands were originally the only seating to the structure. The west stands were built in the 1960s and an addition was made to the east stands in the early 1970s. The stadium at one time held 12,000 people but currently seats 10,000.
Over the years it has hosted Harding, John F. Kennedy and Western Reserve high schools, as well as Ray Mancini boxing matches, Children's Olympics, National PONY League softball tournaments, Trumbull County Relay for Life, and the Northeast Ohio Disciples semipro football team.
"We do some rentals, like when Youngstown schools can't use YSU," Harding athletic director Paul Trina said. "Every year we host OHSAA playoff games. We average two games per year, but we've had as many as four in a playoff season."
Trina said this has been a long-term project.
"In 2003 the levy was passed," he said. "In 2005 we put synthetic turf on the stadium. We took the dirt from the old field to build the baseball field. We built the new school in 2008. We kept two practice fields, and in the spring of 2009 we put in an all-weather track. The only future thing we're doing is to put in four tennis courts at the north end of the stadium, upgrade the lighting system and make renovations to the band shell."
Harding assistant athletic director Len Redmond said the construction is a benefit for the stadium and the school.
"It'll prolong the life of the existing home side and benefit the school," he said. "Its cost is beneficial and cheaper than replacing everything."
Trina added that there was a solid plan in place from the beginning.
"Athletic Alliance Company specializes in athletic fields and upgrades to stadiums," he said. "We devised a plan before we ever got started: start with a major plan and bite off more pieces as you can afford them.
"We saved a lot of money not to bring in a bunch of new dirt (on the baseball field project). They help you do things timely. They help you move resources around and do things more economically."
As far as how the money was raised, Trina said, "A little bit at a time. It was local fundraising dollars and school improvement dollars."