Crabs fans rejoice! The new bleachers have arrived.
“As I always say in my welcome speech every season, the board does not own the Crabs. We are just the caretakers,” Humboldt Crabs Board President Bill Ruff said. “For many seasons we’ve promised our fans new seats that are safe and are ADA compliant. We are so happy to have done that.”
Board member and past president Matt Filar explained the progress made in the ball park. Filar is a familiar figure on the field, photographing everything Crabs.
“The bleachers were over 30 years old and they weren’t even new when they were put in. They really needed to be replaced,” he said. “The railings didn’t go all the way to the pavement and they weren’t ADA compliant. The press box was accessible only by ladder.”
Filar knows what he’s talking about. Navigating the last two rows on the way down from the bleachers, without anything to hold on to, could be terrifying. This writer often depended on the kindness of strangers to help her way down. The other option, undignified but safe, was to sit down and proceed step by butt, step by butt, rather like a hermit crab, slowly. And, just add a cargo of beer cups and food trays into the task – disaster in the making.
“Access to the bleachers will be up or down the middle and twice as wide as it was before,” Filar said. “There will be a railing from the very top to the very bottom.”
In addition, the sides and back of the bleachers will be enclosed by plastic coated fencing, so that little kids and trash won’t fall through. And each seat row is attached to a floor. Each walkway is wider so that banging into people’s knees will be a thing of the past. And each seat row is closed off to the underside of the bleachers – no more dropped fifty-fifty tickets or car keys.
“Cleanup will be easier or more difficult,” Filar said. “But they’ll manage. The seats are almost waterproof too.”
The City of Arcata along with the Crabs organization provided funds to buy and install the new bleachers. The old ones have been recycled for the aluminum.
Sight lines may improve for fans as well. The new bleachers have been moved forward, leaving a six foot passage way behind them. Once folks get used to the idea, they can walk between the row of bleachers and the back wall to get around the ball park, rather than walking in front of the bleachers and blocking the view of fans who like to sit in the lower seats and those in wheelchairs.
“There will be seating for people in wheelchairs at the bottom corner of each bleacher section,” Filar said. “It’s ADA compliant with enough room for two wheelchairs at each space. And there’s a little seat next to that for an attendant or a friend.”
Another improvement is the press box. This writer was once invited up to interview the announcers and enjoy the view. She got up the ladder, no problem, but balked at the idea of swinging like Tarzan over an open space to the box opening. The open space was just that, open to the concrete floor 15 feet below. Maybe on the gymnasium as a little kid... Now the access will be from the bleachers with doors opening on either side.
“The new press box has been installed up against the existing press box,” Filar said. “There is a counter across the front with three operable windows. The inside is nice,” he added.
“As of last week, Brant Electric was installing the electrical as the last part of the project.”
Access for those who use wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility devices has also been improved. “The new ramp has a slope that is not as great as the one before,” Filar said. “Miller Farms did the concrete work on the new ramp.”
The city is also in the process of upgrading the facades of the ball park. The third base side has been done and the front part of the facade will be done at a future date. “Exit signs and emergency lights are up to the latest standards,” Filar said, “and staff members have been to classes on new safety procedures.”
Safety has always been a hallmark of the ball park, one where parents can feel happy about their children being safe.
“It’s about making it safe for our fans,” Ruff said. “It’s such a generational park--parents bringing in their kids to games, kids who are now working for us.’
There is more to do but Filar explained that “you can do it in stages as long as you show that you are making an effort to bring it into compliance.”
Now for the Braille readers for the umps. Just kidding.