UPDATE: East Ridge High School stadium will be demolished - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: East Ridge High School stadium will be demolished

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EAST RIDGE, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: The home-side stadium bleachers at East Ridge High School have been condemned for almost a week now -- and now we're learning the caution tape won't be coming down anytime soon.

A structural engineer toured the stadium and says the damages are beyond repair.

"So this one's been patched, and patched and patched now it's just beyond patching, it's unsafe," said Lee McDade, Hamilton County Asst. Superintendent.

East Ridge Pioneer fans are no longer allowed to cheer from the Raymond James Stadium and will soon see it demolished. 

"The engineer suggested it be demolished immediately, you know as quickly as possible," McDade said.

Head Coach Tracy Malone says the news has been hard to hear for many of his players -- especially the seniors.
    
There's a chance home games could still be played at East Ridge -- using only the visitor side bleachers.

"Ideally i just want to be able to play at Raymond James Stadium, that's it," Malone said, "New, old, there's a lot of tradition and history there."

East Ridge High School isn't the only local school with an aging structure. The county is putting together a list of all the other older stadiums to see if those bleachers are also unsafe for fans

"We're going to send structural engineers out to visit all the stadiums we're concerned about," McDade said.

The school board will talk about possible funding for a new stadium at their next meeting later this month.

McDade says ideally the stadium will be funded with money from this year's budget -- and hopes to have a new stadium for next year.

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ORIGINAL STORY: Friday's game was supposed to be the home opener for the football team, but the city of East Ridge says the stadium is not safe enough to have fans cheering from the bleachers.

Friday's game against Signal Mountain will be played at Baylor's football stadium.

"This game this week is going to be a large crowd and I didn't think they could all fit on one side of the stadium," said Hamilton County Asst. Superintendent Lee McDade, "So we encouraged the coach to find another facility to use."
 
Holes eroding in the concrete foundation and rusting steel beams are keeping fans from cheering on the East Ridge Pioneers from their home field.

McDade says it's still too early to tell what needs to be done to fix it and at what cost.
    
He's hired a structural engineer to come out and inspect the stadium within the next few days.
 
"If it's something that we can patch and get through the season with and fix at the end of the year we'll do that," McDade said, "But if it's something that can't be fixed we'll have to decide what we're going to do moving forward."
 
Head Coach Tracy Malone says the news has been hard to hear for many of his players especially the seniors.

"Yea I mean it's tough on them, but they're resilient, they're resilient kids, and we're not going to let them use this as an excuse," Coach Malone said.
 
Malone says there's a chance some games that typically draw a smaller turnout could be played at East Ridge using only the visitors side.
    
He will adjust the schedule week by week, hoping these crumbling bleachers are the toughest challenge for the team this season.
 
"Ideally  just want to be able to play at Raymond James Stadium, that its, new, old, there's a lot of tradition and history there," Coach Malone said.
 

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