KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett High School’s J. Fred Johnson Stadium may be in line for additional seating to handle some large Friday night football crowds expected this fall.
The Kingsport Board of Education at its Thursday night work session reviewed a proposal that Director of Finance David Frye said would enlarge total seating capacity by about 2,100 with the addition of some new stadium seating where there is none and the replacement of some existing ones dating back to the early 1980s.
All told, the proposal would have 3,197 additional seats, but about 1,100 of those would replace existing seats, Frye said.
The up-front cost of all four options would be $667,750, based on a Jan. 10 price quote from Dant Clayton Corp. of Louisville, Ky. Frye said funding options include outright purchase as well as a lease-purchase agreement.
“If you do all of this, you would be gaining about 2,100 seats,” Frye said Thursday before speaking to the BOE.
A change in scheduling by the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA) has D-B and other local high schools playing more local opponents.
“Regular season, we’re not playing Campbell County, Knox Bearden or Karns,” Frye said, although he said past games with Oak Ridge have drawn larger visiting crowds.
At the Sullivan South at D-B game in the fall, Frye said the stadium may have held in the neighborhood of 10,000 people. South is a short drive from D-B.
“We’re going to have some big crowds,” Frye said this year of home games at which D-B will host Tennessee High School from Bristol and Science Hill from Johnson City.
Faced with a similar situation, Hawkins County’s Volunteer High School is to host D-B this fall, and the Hawkins County Board of Education is seeking the cost of adding 300 seats each at the Volunteer and Cherokee high school stadiums.
At Volunteer, that would be about enough to handle the full D-B marching band, which at J. Fred Johnson has its own bleachers section.
Frye said if any or all of the Kingsport project is to be done in time for this fall, it needs action by the BOE at its Feb. 4 meeting.
Option 1, at $152,250, would add a new I-beam bleacher structure to the left of the current home bleachers, adding 737 seats.
Option 2, at $194,500, would add 772 seats to the right of the current home bleachers.
Option 3, at $114,250, would replace bleachers that hold 380 in the end zone with new bleachers that would add another 634 seats.
Option 4, at $206,750, would replace a section that holds 720 with a new section that would add another 1,054.
Frye said the new bleachers are built to stringent standards unheard of in the 1980s.
“You’d have a hard time dropping a coin through these bleachers,” Frye said.
The stadium dates back to 1941, nearly three decades before the current D-B campus moved there from what is now Sevier Middle School.
Frye said over the years the school system had done upgrades and improvements to the facility, including artificial turf installed recently and some structural supports put in to shore up the 1941 concrete structure.