ILWACO — When the Ilwaco Fishermen take to Peterson Field for their first home game of the 2021 football season, spectators are unlikely to notice that they are sitting in a stadium that recently underwent critical renovations.

The lowkey but crucial repairs of Ilwaco High School’s massive, 43-year-old stadium began earlier this summer and officially wrapped up at the end of August. The work done on the aging structure, which has been a pain in the neck for the Ocean Beach School District ever since it was constructed in the late 1970s via a federal grant, is expected to extend the life of the stadium for 3-5 more years and give the district time to come up with a long-term solution.

Parts of the stadium were declared unsafe by the district just prior to the pandemic, when students were still regularly accessing the structure. In the bottom-floor weight room, large chunks of concrete had begun to fall from the ceiling onto the weight room area. OBSD brought in a structural engineer to examine the stadium, who outlined repairs that could be done to keep the stadium usable in the short-term.

The structural repairs came with a price tag of around $150,000, much higher than OBSD was hoping for when it put the project out for bid but one that it was able to afford because of the fiscally conservative approach the district has taken, Superintendent Amy Huntley said.

Repairs were completed throughout the structure, including below the stadium’s western end. New posts and triangular brackets were installed to replace an eroding post, and are now carrying much of the weight and support. Chris Patana, OBSD facilities maintenance director, said with these repairs he’s now not as concerned about a small earthquake causing that side to collapse, which was a serious concern before the fix.

Triangular brackets were also installed below the stadium’s eastern end, directly underneath seating areas. The intent of the brackets, Patana said, is to provide support and allow for seating on both sides of the stadium.

More triangular brackets were installed up on the concourse area to support the structure. Old turnbuckles were also replaced with new, specially designed turnbuckles, helping to keep the roof trusses stable going from side-to-side. One of the old turnbuckles had broken and fell, and any type of earth movement could have caused serious damage.

The work done this summer will allow people to be seated in the whole stadium and use the concession stand area. But certain areas will remain off-limits to visitors, including ramps and a stairwell by the concession stand concourse area that goes below the stadium. Restrooms on the concourse will also remain off-limits.

“We look to pretty much be back in business,” Patana said.

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