Evansville opens season Friday after press-box blaze

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John Barry
Thursday, August 22, 2013

EVANSVILLE--The damage is done but the spirit is far from broken in Evansville.

Despite a fire late Saturday night that destroyed the Evansville High School press box, it will be business as usual Friday night at Ron Grovesteen Field.

Evansville High Athletic Director Brian Cashore confirmed Tuesday that Friday’s regular-season football opener between Evansville and Union Grove will go on as scheduled. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

“We were waiting for the approval from the inspectors before proceeding with our plans to host the game, and we finally got that Tuesday morning,” Cashore said.

“The next thing we have to work on is a source of electricity to take care of our sound system and our PA announcer.”

The fire caused an estimated $250,000 to $300,000 in damages to the press box, surrounding bleachers and risers that were used to support seating. The press box, built in 1984, also housed high school and middle school football equipment, along with trophies, plaques and other memorabilia—much of which was accumulated during Grovesteen’s coaching tenure. The cause of the fire is undetermined and the school district’s insurance is expected to cover most of the loss.

Middle school practice begins Monday, and Cashore said the 70 to 80 kids that participate would be equipped with brand new gear that is expected to arrive before then.

“We lost everything as far as the middle school goes,” Cashore said. “All the helmets, shoulder pads and practice pads were housed in the press box.

“The kids will have equipment to practice in on Monday. Now it’s a matter of replenishing our inventory.”

Fans attending Friday’s varsity game at Evansville can sit on portable bleachers being brought in or on the existing bleachers that were not compromised by the fire.

Since the cause of the fire is unknown, Cashore said there was a three-step process that needed to be completed before the school district even thought about hosting a game Friday night.

The first process involved the Evansville Police Department, which was called in to investigate the cause of the fire.

On Monday, the school district’s insurance company was notified so plans could be made to rebuild the structure.

And the final process was to bring in a structural engineer Tuesday to determine the safety and stability of the bleachers and surrounding area.

Cashore said building a new press box wouldn’t take long.

“If there’s a positive spin to all of this, it’s the way this great community has come forward to help out,” Cashore said. “Whether its supplies or labor, or whatever we might need to get this thing rebuilt, we’ve gotten plenty of people that are willing to help out in some way or another. The people in this community never cease to amaze me.

“It’s a tragedy in the sense that Coach Grovesteen lost a lot of valuable items in the fire, things you can’t replace, but no one was hurt. That’s the most important thing.”

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