Money holding up demolition of crumbling bleachers in Youngstown

Six sets of bleachers at Ipe, Stambaugh, Gibson, Oakland, Nick Johnson and Tod fields need to be torn down

Six sets of bleachers need to be torn down at sports fields in Youngstown.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown parks’ director wants six sets of bleachers torn down because they are eyesores and unsafe, but says money is holding up the demolition.

Among the ruins of the city’s past are many wooden bleachers where people once sat and watched baseball. They are now crumbling, with vegetation growing in between them. The few seats that remain are warped.

“They really need to come down as far as safety reasons. We don’t want anyone getting hurt,” said Youngstown Parks’ Director Bob Burke. “So it is on my goal sheet to eventually get these bleachers all taken down.”

He named six sets of bleachers at Ipe, Stambaugh and Gibson fields on the south side, Oakland and Nick Johnson fields on the east side, and Tod Field on the north side.

Abby Beniston, who runs Youngstown’s demolition program, said she would also like the stands to come down, but there is no money for it this year.

Tearing down all six sets of stands will cost around $400,000, which is about $68,000 a piece. There’s no asbestos, so it should be a straight demolition, removal and renovation.

“All of them may not come down at the same time but I believe, in time, over the next few years, they will all be gone,” Burke said.

Jack Hay spent most of his 65 years playing baseball around Youngstown but walking into the stands at Ipe Field on Tuesday, he admitted, was a little sad.

“Pemberton was the Cadillac, Oakland was the Buick and Ipe was probably like the Ford, Chevy if you want to think of it like that,” Hay said. “In our time, these fields were nice and it was fun.”

Built in 1939, Oakland Field was a Public Works Project, and was one of the nicest ones with lights installed. The stands at Oakland are empty, though a youth football team still uses the field itself.

Hay said Pemberton Park, which is still being used, remains the Cadillac field of Youngstown. No renovations are planned for that field.

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