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February 20, 2020 • Facilities

The bleacher challenge: Overcoming budget and time constraints

{Sponsored} In the competitive world of sports renovation and design, the space for spectators is just one part. While replacing bleacher seating isn’t a frequent purchase, it is one of the major ones a school administration considers when building or renovating a sports stadium, so it’s important that it isn’t just done well, but done at the right price point and on time.

GT Grandstands, a provider of bleachers and grandstands for schools, works with schools building new facilities, as well as renovating existing facilities. Armstrong School District, Blackhawk School District and Boyertown High School are three Pennsylvania schools that design engineer Mark Klopfer worked with, all facing different issues but with similar results. GT Grandstands is part of the Keystone Purchasing Network (KPN), which provides additional benefits to schools beyond simply better pricing.The Keystone Purchasing Network and GT Grandstands Bleachers

Armstrong requested bids several times over the course of three years, each time finding the bids they received were over budget. By eliminating overquoted specifications not requested by the school and by working through the Keystone Purchasing Network for reduced prices, GT Grandstands was to install the grandstands at under the budgeted cost — by $187,000.

“The district had never used the KPN contract to purchase something of this nature and magnitude, but in the end, working with (GT Grandstands) turned out to be one of the easiest parts of our overall stadium project,” said Samuel J. Kirk Jr., director of finance and operations at Armstrong School District.

While Blackhawk also went through a lengthy bidding process with bids that were well above budget, they ended up having to hold the project due to soil issues at the site, creating a tougher timeline once GT Grandstands was awarded the project through the cooperative.

After Klopfer suggested that the grandstand abut a maintenance building with existing restroom facilities that would be simply expanded, the project was to code and ready to go. Construction also faced some challenges because of the placement against the building. Luckily, Klopfer and his team were able to design the facilities, fabricate the grandstands and install them in time and under budget, despite new code changes that increased the required number of bathrooms for the stand load. “Doing this project with … GT Grandstands using the KPN contract not only saved us money but expedited the process,” said Dr. Rob Postupac, superintendent at Blackhawk
School District.

Boyertown, facing the challenge of a condemned facility, solicited bids to repair their grandstand — while also contemplating a $40,000 bill just to test the existing grandstand’s quality and find out if it really needed to be torn down. One engineer suggested the school should spend $2.5 million to reinforce the existing facilities. Ultimately, GT Grandstands was able to build a new grandstand under the budgeted amount by several hundred thousand dollars.

“Prior to the Boyertown High School grandstand project, I had not heard of Stadium Solutions or the Keystone Purchasing Network (KPN), but this project went smoothly and without a single change order on a 3,000-seat structure,” said James Clough, founding principal of KCBA Architects, which contracted with GT Grandstands on behalf of Boyertown.

Besides using GT Grandstands, these schools have several things in common: all three were able to use contract-negotiated pricing through the Keystone Purchasing Network; they all ended up spending much less than anticipated; all three had their projects completed before the deadline.

When schools use preferred KPN vendors, they’re also ensuring that those working at the construction site are paid fair wages. Each KPN vendor has been fully vetted and all workers have passed background checks, making the process seamless for schools. All bids will comply with state and federal and local laws. The competitive purchasing program has been helping schools for over 45 years.

For more information about KPN, visit www.theKPN.org.

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