WEIRTON - When Weir High Athletic Director Mike DelRe leans back in his office chair, he can look out the window and get a bird's eye view of one of the two newest and, possibly, best Class AA high school football stadiums in the state of West Virginia.
Oak Glen's new stadium in central Hancock County is the other.
Construction is nearing completion on the new Jimmy Carey Stadium on the Weir High campus, and when it is done, the school system, students and residents of Weirton can be proud of a facility that would rival many small college stadiums.
ALMOST READY -- The new Jimmy Carey Stadium is taking shape on the Weir High campus.
It will be a significant upgrade from the 76-year old original Jimmy Carey Stadium in downtown Weirton with amenities for coaches, players and fans.
The new stadiums are part of a Hancock County school system improvement program that includes a $37 million bond call and $19 million from the West Virginia SBA.
The stadium is being built at a cost of $5,010,000, which is part of the $56 million in Hancock County school renovation projects.
And one of the special benefits of the new facilities is that they are multi-sport stadiums that, in addition to hosting football teams of both schools, will be home to the soccer and track teams.
"This stadium will be a huge advantage for our coaches and players," said Weir High principal Dan Enich, himself a former Red Rider head football and baseball coach.
"The advantages come in the form of logistics and game management. All our teams have to do is walk out of the door. It's fantastic.
"Since 1963, when Weir High School was built, there has never been a football game on our campus. Now all our teams can play right here - the varsity and reserve football teams, the middle school, our soccer teams, both boys and girls and our boys and girls track teams."
Of course, the soccer and track teams have played their competitions on the grass field and track that was built there in the 1990s.
"This new stadium will give us a cost savings in maintenance like cutting grass, painting, etc. and we won't have to have buses to carry our varsity, reserve and middle school football teams down the hill," Enich continued.
New head football coach Tony Filberto echoed some of what Enich said.
"We finally will get to play a real home game," he said. "For years we have packed equipment, dressed in the school locker room and boarded buses to go to the stadium. Now all we have to do is get dressed and go outside to the field. It will be a big advantage for us."
Filberto said other advantages from his point of view will be practicing on the artificial turf when the field isn't being used for soccer in the fall.
"Also with the turf, we won't have the problems with the weather that you have on grass, we'll have a smooth playing surface for both games and practice and we can practice using 'landmarks' such as numbers and hash marks, which aren't usually on practice fields," he said.
From the top of the home side bleachers, some 45 feet high, and the Bob Rossell Press Box, there is a magnificent view of the Weirton valley. The towers of the Veterans Memorial Bridge crossing the Ohio River can be seen from there.
Enich said the Red Riders purposely scheduled six home football games for the upcoming season to show off the field. He said that with Brooke completing its replacement of grass with artificial turf, the Red Riders will play only three of their 10 regular-season games on natural grass.
The field itself was installed by Pro Grass from Pittsburgh. An alternate dark and light green striping was chosen. Enich said they had three choices - all light green, all dark green or the striping.
The field is permanently lined in white for football and red for soccer. There is a huge block "W" at midfield. Both end zones have a black covering with white lettering, "Weir High" at the south end, and "Red Riders" at the north.
The artificial turf has a composition that includes millions of tiny fibers which can rise to the surface, especially where there is heavy use. To correct those areas, there is a power broom that can be pulled over the field with a tractor. The device has a series of brushes and rakes that will work the granulation back into the artificial material. The fibers come in large 40 cubic foot bags and are made up of 70 percent rubber and 30 percent sand, DelRe said.
A huge Daktronic scoreboard, which includes powerful speakers for the public address system, graces the south end of the field. At the north end are the ticket booths and entry gates along with a vehicle gate for emergency and maintenance vehicles. This end also houses the three flag poles brought from the old stadium.
Enich said the memorial bricks from the old stadium also were brought to the new field and will be installed near the flag area. He said there will be plenty of room for new memorial bricks when there are donations.
DelRe said the scoreboard is computer based with graphics. There cannot be an instant replay, but the scoreboard display is capable of showing graphics of the best plays from the week before.
Enich pointed out that the scoreboard has an area to display placards of stadium sponsors. He said there has been great interest in sponsorships and thus far the sponsors include Greco-Hertnick Funeral Home, FACS Law, Tri-State Medical, Weirton Medical Center and Project BEST.
He said other companies have indicated they will be sponsors and their names also will grace the display as well.
The home side bleachers will have season ticket and reserved seats between the 40-yard lines. The press box was named during the closing ceremonies at the old stadium last fall in memory of long-time Weir High public address announcer and school athletic historian Bob Rossell, who died shortly after the 2011 football season was completed. A large sign with Rossell's name will grace the outside and inside of the press box.
Underneath the home stands are facilities that include a locker room for game officials, two 36-by-30 foot changing and halftime rooms for the home team and visitors, large restrooms for men and women, and, at one of the stadium vaumatories, is a family rest room where parents can take small children.
There are identical large concession stands on both the home side of the field and visitors', which will continue to be operated by the Weir High Band Parents. The Red Rider football boosters will continue to operate the parking lots.
There has been concern about parking and access to and from the Weir High campus, but Enich points out that the school parking lot is being revamped to gain at least 30 additional parking spaces. He said when the renovation is completed and with the Weir Middle School parking lot there will be parking for about the same number of cars as the downtown stadium.
Also, Enich said there will be two ways that traffic can enter and leave the campus on game nights as opposed to one entranceway at the old stadium.
"We plan a grand opening on Aug. 24, the day of our first football game," said Enich. "Actually, it will be a continuation of the closing ceremonies we had for the old stadium."
He said plans are still in the making, but the event will be for all stakeholders such as the football teams, boys and girls soccer and track teams, the band and cheerleaders.
"All will be invited onto the field and serve as honorary coin tossers for the game," he explained.
Enich and DelRe pointed out that with seating for 2,200 on the home side and 1,100 for visitors, the stadium meets all specifications to host West Virginia Class AA playoff games. They said a representative of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission will certify the stadium when it is completed.
"I don't think we missed a beat in building this stadium," said Filberto. "I'm not sure they cut any corners. We have as good or better facility as anywhere we will play and I'm pleased and proud to be playing in this new stadium."