Photo by The Times News
Panther Stadium Fence
Panther Stadium Grandstand Schedule Board
Photos taken by Heidi
Panther Stadium Construction Pictures
Photos taken by Smokey Krajnak
Photos of Panther Stadium:
Meet the Panthers 2004
Taking By Robert O'Gurek
No place like home
BY KEVIN KEATING
Pottsville Republican & Herald
LANSFORD — When you enter Lansford from the south on Route 209, the first thing you probably notice is the canopy over the home bleachers at Panther Valley Stadium.
While the canopy still stands, you may not recognize the rest of the stadium as it has undergone a major overhaul to update a facility that was built by the Federal Works Progress Administration in 1937.
Since an insurance company condemned the stands under that canopy two years ago, Panther fans have had to sit in the visitor's bleachers for home games.
But starting Friday night, when Pine Grove (1-0) comes to town for the Panthers' home opener, Panther Valley (0-1) fans will once again feel at home under the canopy.
The original roof has been refurbished, sandblasted and painted, new bleachers have been installed on the home side as well as the visitor's side and a brand new field house has been built at the east end of the stadium, giving the Panthers' lair a new look and feel.
"I think the whole project was based around that canopy," said George Kranjak, Panther Valley School District 's grounds manager. "Whatever was going to happen, the first thing that was said was, What's going to happen to the canopy?' Whether we were renovating, what we had to rip out, how we had to cut out to get everything to stay so we didn't damage that roof."
Kranjak added that such a canopy is rare at football stadiums.
"There's not many left in the state anymore," Kranjak said. "I don't know if there are any left in the state anymore. When you drive into town and you see it, you're like, 'Wow, look at that, that's a high school field with a roof.'
"I think the people in the town, if we would have taken the roof down, they would have been up in arms."
These visible changes just scrape the surface of the $2.5 million renovation project in Lansford.
The light standards have been moved behind the bleachers, giving fans a clear sightline of the field, and a new scoreboard and sound system have been added, as well as a new press box at the top of the visitor's bleachers.
The new facility easily rivals that of some small colleges.
The old locker area located under the home stands has also been moved to the east end zone.
Inside the field house, the Panthers' locker room has a college feel to it with black and gold individual lockers that will have player nameplates added to them, as well as a stool at each locker stall.
The Panthers' locker area also includes a coaches' office as well as a training area, while the visitor's locker room has been updated as well, including an officials' locker room flanking the visitor's room.
Kranjak noted the excitement of the Panthers' football team on seeing its new facility.
"The kids are all excited," Kranjak said. "They were down and went through the locker rooms and all. You can just tell the atmosphere is so much better. Before, they had nothing. They had a bench and a hook on the wall and showers that were just terrible. They were real excited."
Panther Valley coach Anthony Russo looks forward to getting into the renovated stadium Friday night.
"It's going to be a great atmosphere for a game," Russo said. "It's going to be a great experience. It's going to be a great night, an exciting football game. I think everyone's going to be excited about what they've been working on for the last year."
In addition to the upgraded football facility, amenities have been added to the stadium as well, including restroom upgrades and a macadam walking track outside around a fence that was added to protect the grass surface of the field.
One drawback to the construction is that the football team hasn't been able to utilize the facility much.
"The renovations are really nice, but I think we need to use the stadium," Russo said. "It's going to be nice when all the construction is done and the kids can really utilize the locker rooms and the whole complex."
In an age of budget cutbacks and rising expenses, the project may not have been feasible if not for a $1.5 million grant that cut the cost significantly.
"One of the big things was we had a $1.5 million grant that Keith McCall got," Kranjak added. "That just helped us out tremendously. It cut the price of the project in more than half. That was just a tremendous shot in the arm."
One thing that hasn't changed is the playing surface at the stadium, which could easily be confused for that of Beaver Stadium.
Kranjak applauds his grounds crew of Phil Shelton, Andy Michalik and Lauren Chickilly for keeping the playing surface in top condition.
Now the major project facing that crew will be the maintenance of the upgraded facility.
"You've got to take care of it," Kranjak said. "You have minimum man power and you do the best you could."
Panther Valley to unveil stadium Rededication ceremony will be held in September.
By Sarah Fulton
Special to The Morning Call 06/02/05
Panther Valley School District's historic football stadium, which is undergoing renovations, will be rededicated at a September ceremony, the district's athletic department said Wednesday. Athletic Director John Horvath told the school board's Athletic Committee that the ceremony is tentatively scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Sept. 9, before the high school Panthers' third football game — against Pine Grove. Horvath plans to invite all Panther Valley football team alumni, past athletic directors and coaches to rededicate the stadium after the $2.7 million project is completed. The district is building home and visitors bleachers and a field house with storage and locker rooms at the stadium, along Route 209 in Lansford. School directors started the project after district architects declared the old bleachers unsafe. Damp conditions in the enclosed storage area under the grandstand caused the bleachers and their structural supports to rust to the point the district had to prohibit sitting in the stands at football games. ''They've made quite a bit of progress recently,'' district Superintendent Chris West said. ''Bleachers are almost up on the visitors side.'' The Athletic Committee is seeking donations to help buy a new scoreboard. The scoreboard costs $10,000 and contains a digital display. To date, the district has $575 in donations for the scoreboard, and $1,000 has been pledged. District officials are considering getting sponsors for the board and thanking them on the scrolling display throughout the game. The board also would double as advertising for local businesses that donate toward its purchase. ''People are going to be more likely to sponsor a chunk rather than a whole,'' West said. In other matters, West told the Athletic Committee that a plaque is missing from the district's trophy case. The high school's Wrestling Hall of Fame Honorable Mention plaque has been missing for about two years and parents of former wrestlers have called the school to complain. West said he has questioned school staff and the wrestling booster club, which removes the plaque for cleaning and the addition of names. No one has seen the plaque. West said the athletic department should develop a sign-out list for booster clubs who remove plaques so each item can be accounted for. West said an inventory also should be taken and a catalog of trophies developed.
Restoring a showplace Panther Valley Stadium.
By BOB URBAN
The Times News
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sanctioned its construction more than 70 years ago. And this morning, State Rep. Keith McCall launched its rebirth.
McCall, D-Carbon, in an appropriate setting, announced from the stadium that the Panther Valley School District has been awarded a $1.5-million Capital Budget Fund grant for the renovation of the local historic landmark.
McCall emphasized that the structure is not only a football stadium, but is an important part of the history of the Panther Valley Area. It was built during the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration program instituted by President Roosevelt, and its covered bleachers are one of the architectural features that makes it unique.
"The stadium is not only a ]major arena for our local sports teams, but it is much more as well," McCall said. "It has been the site of many athletic contests and community events over the years, and it holds a great deal of sentimental value for area residents. It has brought people here for over 70 years, and they want to see it restored to its former glory."
In a joint statement from School Superintendent Dr. Robert Mauro and Panther Valley School Board President David Hiles, they thanked Rep. McCall for his efforts in obtaining the grant.
"We appreciate the work done by Rep. McCall to obtain this funding for the stadium project," the statement said. "The Board of School Directors was faced with the problem of an unsafe facility when the district's feasibility study was completed in December, 2002. As recently as 1996, the district commissioned the Pidcock Study by an Allentown engineering and architectural firm to study the condition of the stadium and recommend options to the Board. The results indicated clearly the need for structural renovation, the requirement to meet building code, and the need to conform to ADA standards."
Last year further investigation discovered an imminent safety situation. It was then decided to close the grandstand for the 2004 football season, and the board committed to a $2.6-million rehabilitation effort. This includes construction of a block building to house team rooms, toilet areas, training rooms, and storage space, as well as replacement of the grandstand itself and the visitor side bleachers.
Construction has begun, and the project is expected to be completed by July 2005.
Dr. Mauro and Hiles further stated that the $1.5-million grant is significant because the stadium project wasn't anticipated, and because this type of work isn't reimbursable under state law.
Pointing out some of the great sporting events held in the stadium over the years, McCall stressed, "while memories can last a lifetime, buildings don't always hold up as well. That's what happened here at the stadium. It has aged like all structures do. It has been used frequently. It has suffered from the consequences of time, and it needs help."
"Well, guess what," he added. "We are going to be able to do that (transform the stadium into a showplace once again).
McCall said getting a project on the capital budget list is difficult, and its final approval depends on the discretion of the governor and if there is available funding.
"I met with Gov. Ed Rendell personally and asked him to approve this worthwhile project," McCall concluded. "I guess I must have convinced him. And now we can all look forward to the day in the near future when we're back underneath the enclosed bleachers, watching a game or a community event, or remembering another game or event from the past."
Work on Panther Valley stadium to begin next month
Board awards pacts for four-phase project to two contractors.
By Gerry McClenahan
Special to The Morning Call
With contracts awarded, work to renovate the Panther Valley School District's football stadium in Lansford will be under way by next month.
The school board held a special meeting Monday to award the contracts for the work, which will begin ''as soon as possible,'' according to district business manager Thomas Cipriano.
The project grew out of the district's need to renovate the stadium's main grandstand. Built as a public works project in 1937, the home bleachers feature a canopy that remains intact, but the seating area has deteriorated to the point that it was closed last year.
In October, district officials agreed to renovate the stands. When further inspection of the stadium grounds revealed that a retaining wall along Cortright Street was crumbling, they also developed a plan to replace the locker rooms and ticket booth with a new building that also will serve as a wall on that side of the grounds.
Cipriano said the work will begin soon and should progress very quickly.
''Part of the bidding specifications included a provision that the work start by September,'' Cipriano said. ''And the block building should go up relatively quickly.''
The block building will be the first structure done, so that games will continue at the stadium while the work is ongoing.
Cipriano explained that the new building, which will house locker rooms and a ticket booth, will be constructed before the old one is demolished, then the new one will be used while work on the bleachers proceeds.
Another reason Cipriano said he expects the work to progress quickly is that the work on all four phases — general construction, plumbing, mechanical and electrical — will be performed by just two contractors.
Bognet Inc. of Hazleton submitted the low bids for general construction at $1,132,493; for mechanical work at $214,214; and for plumbing at $185,851.
The second contractor, Lombardo & Lipe, was the low bidder for the electrical phase at $243,050.
Cipriano said five contractors bid on each phase of the work, and the board had to evaluate several bid options before selecting the low bidders. The low bidders were evaluated by the architects, Architectural Studios of Allentown, before the contracts were awarded Monday.
''Every one of the bidders had either worked with the architect or was found to have good references,'' Cipriano noted.
Though the work is expected to be completed by the end of the year, the home bleachers probably will be off-limits for this football season.
''The way we have worked it out, the season will go on here, just as it did last year,
and we'll have a new grandstand and everything next year,'' Cipriano said.