Inspector deems bleachers at three Sumner Co. high schools unsafe

Sumner County Schools said they will install temporary bleachers at Beech High School for football season.
WSMV4's Marissa Sulek reports.
Published: Aug. 18, 2023 at 11:32 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Friday Night Lights looked different in Sumner County after a structural engineer deemed bleachers at three different high schools unsafe.

A storm took out a portion of the visiting bleachers at Beech High School earlier this week. So, Sumner County Schools had a structural engineer look at all the bleachers in the county.

Friday’s game at Portland High School had all the normal sights and sounds of high school football: the cheerleaders, the parents, and the student section. But something at the rivalry game between Portland and White House seemed unusual.

“Other than the empty stands and the fact we are on opposite ends of the field,” pointed out White House fan and father, Ken Knack.

Portland fans sat on the visiting side, while White House cheered from the home stands. That’s also where the middle section of bleachers was roped off.

“Apparently this one failed inspection and they had to close it so that’s why I’m sitting here,” said Knack.

Sumner County School said the middle portion of Portland High School’s home bleachers failed an inspection.

The visiting side bleachers at Hendersonville High School failed the inspection as well. WSMV4 went to go see the bleachers and found seats sagging, and some were supported by stacks of bricks.

At Beech High School, Sumner County School Board Member, Steven King, said the home stands will not be used again. That’s after storms destroyed the visiting bleachers earlier this week just a day after fans sat there for a game.

“It was a shock to everybody,” said King.

He said he wants bleachers at each high school inspected annually.

“One of the things I want to press on the Board is doing everything we can to provide for the repair and upgrades that our schools need to make sure everybody is safe,” King said.

WSMV4 asked Sumner County Schools when was the last time high school bleachers were inspected. We called, texted, and emailed the Director of Communications, Jeremy Johnson, but never heard back. So, we put in a public records request. Sumner County Schools has seven business days to provide that information, according to Tennessee law.

Fans said the caution tape surrounding Portland High School’s stands didn’t give them the best feeling.

“I thought about that when I first sat down,” said Knack. “I was like, “Well, these were closed, I wonder if these were as safe as those”.”

However, they were glad the game could still go on.

“I don’t think the fact the stands are shut down has really been much of a deterrent at all,” added Knack.

Sumner County Schools said they will install temporary bleachers at Beech High School for football season. They say other schools inspected had no or limited issues with their bleachers.