Anyone who has sat in the west bleachers at Great Bend High School’s Memorial Stadium recently has probably noticed the menacing panther eyes on the eastern stadium wall no longer glare at them.
The mural remains, but a new press box for the visiting team’s coaches and media stands in front of it.
David Meter, Unified School District 428 activities director, said there just wasn’t enough room in the newly installed press box atop the new bleachers on the western side of the field. "It was very crowded if you put the other coaches and radio stations in there."
The GBHS Panthers have already had two home games, but neither visiting team was accompanied by radio broadcasters and space hasn’t been as much of a problem thus far. The opposing coaches have packed into the western box, having to run up and down the steps through the local crowd.
USD 428 maintenance personnel are building the sturdy plywood structure, and Meter said it should be ready by for the next home contest Friday, Oct. 15, against Hays. They had hoped to have the box done before the season started, but district staff got tied up working on the other stadium improvements.
"At this level, there are a lot of coaches" who want to observe and film a game from above, Meter said. Great Bend places four coaches in the press box.
This wasn’t a matter of lack of planning, said USD Business Director Dan Brungardt. District officials thought going into the project there may be space issues.
Although the new western press box was deeper, it wasn’t any longer than the previous one due to structural limitations. The width made the facility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"We were full before," Brungardt said of the new press box during the first two home games. This will also eliminate any possible hostilities that might arise as visiting team representatives pass through the home fans.
As for the mural, it will be restored in some fashion, Meter said. "We will get it back, but maybe not like before."
Mark Guthrie of Mark’s Custom Signs did the mural in the first place and will come back to re-do it. Meter said they plan to have this done by the Hays game as well.