PHOTOS: Storied GHS Bleachers Consigned to the Scrap Heap

Greenwich High School’s bleachers were demolished on Tuesday.

Students were thrilled to see the demolition, and so were people with long memories. The latter possibly more so.

The demolition launches phase 1a of the upgrades to Cardinal stadium, which will include new home side bleachers, team room underneath, press box/elevator, and toilet facilities.

“This project has been so long in the making that it’s truly exciting to see progress in the form of the removal of the previously condemned bleachers,” said BOE chair Peter Bernstein Tuesday night, adding, “I look forward to the completion of the project and a time when the GHS students can be back in the stadium together.”

Remains of the Cardinal stadium bleachers. Dec 8, 2020
Demolished bleachers at dusk on Dec 8, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Bleachers coming down. Dec 8, 2020 Contributed photo
Bleachers coming down. Dec 8, 2020 Contributed photo
Bleachers are demolished. Dec 8, 2020 Contributed photo

GHS neighbor Ashley Cole, who lives on Hillside Rd said, “We’ve been waiting a long time for the improvements to infrastructure at GHS. The student body and the community at large deserve a campus that is safe, beautiful, sustainable and functional.”

“We look forward to working with the Board of Education to ensure that GHS maintains a campus that also reflects and protects the unique character and excellence of Greenwich, and takes into account the residential zoning in which it resides,” she added.

Start of the demolition of the GHS bleachers. Dec 8, 2020 Contributed photo
Demolition in progress at Cardinal stadium. photo: Dan Watson

Ah, if only the bleachers could speak.

But we do know the bleachers were moved by helicopter from the south side of campus in the 1970s to their current position after their original location at the “new” GHS, which opened in 1970, was constantly wet. Students at the time made jokes about wearing flippers during outdoor PE class.

The field was under water at the bleachers’ original location at GHS. Photo: GHS Compass yearbook 1970.
The BOE accepted a gift of $120K Gift from Greenwich Athletic Foundation to shore up GHS Bleachers. July 2019
Closed bleachers at Cardinal Field. Photo: Leslie Yager
The bleachers were condemned and off limits as of April 2019. Photo: Leslie Yager

Fast forward in time.

But both the district’s engineer and the Town Building Department eventually concurred that the bleachers needed to be brought up to current building codes.

They were condemned in April 2019, throwing plans for graduation into a tailspin.

Fortunately, the bleachers benefited from remedial work paid for by the Greenwich Athletic Foundation in 2019. They were power washed and shored up with scaffolding. The GAF also paid to rent the scaffolding for several months.

“As much as we excited for new bleachers at Cardinal Stadium, it’s bitter sweet to see the old ones comes down,” said Rich Fulton of the Greenwich Athletic Foundation on Tuesday, adding, “Love them or loathe them, they allowed us to witness countless sporting events and graduation ceremonies.”

Fulton said the Greenwich Athletic Foundation was thrilled to see ‘Project Big Red’ finally begin with the demolition of the old bleachers.

Like Bernstein, Fulton said the GAF was hopeful that the spring sports season and class of 2021 graduation will occur in Cardinal Stadium with families seated on the new bleachers.

So do we!

Rust was visible in 2018 on the stadium bleachers. Photo: Leslie Yager
Home side bleachers full of spectators for graduation in 2017. Photo: Leslie Yager
In November 2018 the bleachers were power washed. That removed green mold but not the rust. Photo: Leslie Yager
Remains of the home side bleachers at GHS. Dec 8, 2020
Remains of the home side bleachers at GHS. Dec 8, 2020