FOOTBALL: Walkway issue puts Memorial home games in limbo

Published 5:13 pm Saturday, July 14, 2018

Memorial’s five home football games could move to a different location for the 2018 season.

Port Arthur ISD Superintendent Mark Porterie said Saturday after a school board retreat that the district has closed Memorial Stadium for safety reasons, citing an unsafe passage to the press box. The announcement came 48 days before Memorial is scheduled to kick off the season at the stadium against Deer Park.

“We have some concerns with the structure of the walkway that leads to the press box,” Porterie said. “We have consulted a structural engineer and a local steel fabricator. If we replace the existing 2×8 wood joists with galvanized C4x5.4 steel channels, reuse the existing diamond plate deck, and install continuous metal flashing along all walls where they meet the walkways, it should take care of the problem.”

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Porterie said the district has consulted a structural engineer and local steel fabricator to examine problems with the structure of the walkway that leads to the press box. Once a contractor is awarded a contract, Porterie thinks it will take about two months to complete.

Recent heavy rains in the city are believed to cause rotting in the wood.

“If the contractor uncovers any of the existing metal panel walls and discovers rotting wood in the walls (which we could not see during the inspection), the construction cost and time will certainly increase,” Porterie said. “If any temporary shoring is required or new walkway deck materials are used, this will also increase the anticipated construction cost.”

It “may be possible” for construction to be completed sooner, but the cost will most likely increase, Porterie said. The cost will not be set until a contract is awarded.

First-year PAISD athletic director and Memorial head football coach Brian Morgan said he learned about the walkway issue within the past week. He deferred questions on the prospects of relocating the home games to Porterie.

Porterie said the district is in the “planning stage” of relocating games, declining to name possible locations.

“There is nothing definite,” he said. “We will continue to consult with our engineer and architect before a decision is final.”

At Memorial High School, a project to redo the practice field after years of “wear and tear” are underway, Morgan said. The project was approved May 24.

“It’s a little process to get digging,” Morgan said, adding the practice field will remain grass. Memorial Stadium uses a turf field.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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