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Fans celebrate re-opening of Rottle Field

The new grandstands at Jack Rottle Field may not have been ready for the football season, but for the fans who had the first chance to use the bleachers, it was worth the wait. The grandstands made their debut last week during the Montesano boys soccer games.

“I love them,” said Sharon Utheim, who has worked taking tickets at Bulldog games for two decades. “The size, the looks, the ceiling. I just love that we have grandstands again. It has been so long. It just looks so sharp.”

The grandstands at Rottle Field were burned to the ground by a fire in September 2012. The history and tradition of the old stands went up in flames in a case that remains unsolved to this day, but fans have been eager to start a new history with the construction project for a new grandstands on the same sight. Originally, the date for completion of the project was October 2013, but defects in the concrete risers that support the wooden benches in the grandstands delayed the construction. The last coat of paint was put on the grandstands a few weeks ago and on March 18 fans were finally able to use the stands for the first time when the Montesano boys soccer team played Tenino.

The Bulldogs earned a 3-1 victory and for the players there is no feeling quite like playing in front of the home crowd.

“Getting the first win on Tuesday with the new stands, you know those stands are going to be there for a long time and it feels good knowing we did that,” said junior Brandon Lovell, who scored the first goal against Tenino. “The fans are always good and I love that we have good supporters. The new stands in general just bring a new hype to the games.”

With construction still underway on the grandstands during the last soccer season, those in attendance had to sit on metal bleachers Montesano High School borrowed from the county to use during games.

“They brought all those bleachers in and when it was raining my son brought his big tarp in so everybody could get underneath it and watch the game,” Ron Prante said.

The new grandstands are a far cry from the small metal bleachers. Those attending games get a nice look at the maroon, gray and cream colored paint on the exterior of the grandstands before they make their way inside. The inside of the grandstands is cream colored with maroon colored support beams and natural wood exposed under the cover. All of the seats are wooden with metal railings along each of the aisles.

The crowd last week was protected from the elements they had to deal with last season and was nice and dry under the cover of the new grandstands.

Prante, who was at the soccer game to watch his grandson Kylar Prante, spent time on Rottle Field himself in 1949 and 1950 when he played football for Elma.

“This is wonderful,” Prante said. “Well worth the money. They did a good job on them, now what we need is the artificial turf.”

In addition to a new press box in the top portion of the grandstands, the new seating facility features a new sound system and florescent lighting.

For players, it doesn’t matter what all went into building the stands, but who is in the stands when they play. When Lovell scored three goals in less than five minutes against King’s Way Christian on March 20, the noise from the grandstands helped make it an unforgettable moment for the junior as the crowd “went crazy” as he headed in his third goal.

With all of the pride Montesano has in its athletic programs, the community now has a facility they can be proud as well.

“When people come and visit and they see a nice stadium they think ‘Hey, there is a school system that is looking out for their kids,’ and that is the message we want to send,” Randy Cox said. “It looks like it could last a long time so I think that is good money spent.”