WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Spectators at Pilgrim High School’s homecoming playoff game against Toll Gate High School were forced to get creative with their seating arrangements after the stands were closed this week due to a code violation.
The stands date back to 1965 and were closed off Thursday after a parent from another team noticed they weren’t up to code. The code requires the spacing between the floor and seats to be no greater than four inches. The space on Pilgrim’s bleachers is 18 inches.
“We met with the students and the students I talked to … maybe it’s a product of COVID, where they’ve learned to change on the fly and make the best of things,” Pilgrim High School athletic supervisor Scott Bayha said. “Right away [the students] were kind of like, ‘well, let’s make this the best we can.'”
The school used the track surrounding the field for seating, taping off sections for Pilgrim students, Toll Gate students and adult spectators.
Traditionally, floats are driven around the track along with the prom court in convertibles. But due to the new seating situation, that couldn’t happen this year.
“If that’s all you had to give up were the floats and not the game, cause this game could have been moved somewhere else … We didn’t want that to happen,” Bayha said. “So, we’re having the game at home, we’re having a homecoming dance, and we’re doing the best we can.”
On Friday night, the temporary inconvenience didn’t deter any fans from attending.
“[The seating] reminds me of Pop Warner, where we used to all sit in the chairs,” said Tom Giddings, whose son plays football for Pilgrim High School. “As long as the kids get to play, you know what I mean?”
Some parents wished the city would have waited until after one of the biggest football games of the season to shut down the bleachers.
“I understood in a way, but I wish they kept them because of the homecoming … they should have just kept them for the rest of the football season,” Jessica Walshe said.
Walshe was a part of a group of spectators who took advantage of the school allowing people to tailgate up against the fence. A row of pickup trucks lined the fence, getting a front-row seat to the game.
“They made a bad situation better I guess,” Walshe said. “I think you can see the field better.”
Bayha said bringing the bleachers up to code is now in the hands of the school department. They’re hoping to have a solution by Thanksgiving, which is the last big game of the season.
“They’re doing their best to get everything with the inspector done so we can have the Thanksgiving game,” Bayha said. “Hopefully, our bleachers fixed by the Thanksgiving game.”