With the Warren County Youth Football season not far off, the league could have issues on where it will play its games after the school system announced plans to tear out the concrete bleachers at Bobby Ray’s stadium – the field the football league calls home.
“Without the bleachers we have no place for the parents to sit,” said former youth football commissioner Rhonda Moran, who spoke to the Board of Education along with present commissioner Terenia Ashburn. “We don’t know where we can go and we are getting ready for the coming season.”
At issue was a declaration by Director of Schools Bobby Cox that plans are to have the concrete bleachers at Bobby Ray Stadium demolished once school is over this year. That would mean the bleachers would be in a state of demolition or gone completely once youth football begins. The youth football league serves children up to 12 years of age, accepting all boys and girls who want to play football. The league plays its home games at Bobby Ray and then travels to Manchester, Tullahoma and Cookeville for its road games.
The league has called Bobby Ray home for at least 20 years, even going to the point of putting up lights at the stadium so night games could be played. However, the stadium is still the property of Warren County Schools and is on the campus of Bobby Ray. Cox said that is a major reason for the planned demolition.
“This is for liability purposes,” Cox noted, pointing out the concrete bleachers are in such poor condition someone could fall and get hurt, thus exposing the school system to a lawsuit.
While understanding the school system’s logic in wanting the old concrete bleachers removed, Ashburn said the timing threatens the coming football season.
“If we don’t have that facility, I don’t know what we will do,” said Ashburn, saying at this late hour the league has no other options. “It’s not fair to the kids.”
Ashburn said that with some advance warning, the league might be able to find a sponsor or perhaps a grant to help put new bleachers in the stadium. However, she said there is no way that could be accomplished in such a short time.
Given the problems faced by the league, Cox agreed to hold off on the demolition plans until next month’s School Board meeting. In the meantime, Cox said the bleachers will be looked at by the maintenance department to see if the lower end could be salvaged and remain in place for the coming season.