Bleachers – What You Need To Know

It was 1952.  Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Sonja Henie was set to perform figure skating in Baltimore, MD with her ice revue which included 125 performers.  The sold out show was set to begin at 8:30pm when suddenly the bleachers collapsed at 8:25 when witnesses described a cracking sound “like a freight train.”

1952 a

No one was killed, but 300 people were injured–30 of which were serious.

1952 b

Yes, today’s bleachers are more solid and built tougher than the temporary one on that evening in 1952, but if you are thinking about purchasing bleachers for your school or facility, here are some things you need to know…

First off, know that just because you ‘can’ build them, you shouldn’t.  Take this case for example.  Crystal Lake South High School in McHenry County decided to 51-foot-tall bleachers on the football field last fall without going through the city’s zoning process.  Well this eventually went to court.  The school failed to adhere to the zoning policies in that area, and even if you are only going to buy aluminum bleachers and not build 51′ ones, you may want to check our city’s ordinances and zoning laws.

Next; what does the capacity need to be?  To begin you will need to know how many fans you plan on comfortably seating in those bleachers.  Make sure you are getting a median number and not necessarily the record-breaking number.   The median based on ticket sales will tell you how many will usually show up, but you may want to inflate that a bit if you are planning on hosting larger and larger events.  To try and hit the ‘record-breaking’ ticket numbers, well that could take some time to recoup your bleacher investment…


With that number of fans, be sure to talk to the sales rep you buy your bleachers from about the weight capacity.  It is no secret that over the past several decades Americans have unfortunately gotten heavier.  Know the capacity and limits of any bleachers that you buy.  This is for safety and must be the most important consideration when purchasing.  Sure everyone likes a good deal, and you always want to accommodate as many people as possible but to what cost?  Know and abide by the weight limits.

You don’t want THIS to happen.

So what that also means is that those bleachers your school or facility have that were installed back in say…oh?…1964?   Well those aren’t going to hold as many people as they once did based upon weight capacity.  You may want to have an engineer come in a check them out and consider replacing them altogether.


Will these bleachers be stationary or permanent?  That makes a difference in the fact if you have permanent bleachers in one popular location (football fields) then you can supplement those fan seats with moveable Tip-n-Roll model bleachers from, say, your baseball diamond.  This allows you the maximum choice when it comes to limited seating for fans.


Accessories.  Yes, like anything in this world there are several economical accessories that help you get the most out of your bleachers.  Items such as mud sills (see those wood running boards above) that help the bleacher frame from sinking in soft turf conditions as well as accessories like double foot boards that help you with spacing issues and room are invaluable and should be seriously looked at before ordering.

If you have any questions, give our experience sales reps a call or feel free to use our convenient ‘chat’ feature found in the lower right hand corner on our locker division’s website;

We hope these tips helped you answer some questions as well as better preparing you when you make an order!