The suggestion seemed reasonable to Chuck Stiller.
But then again, the project manager for Vancouver Public Schools didn’t grow up in Vancouver and was admittedly a bit ignorant of the history of Kiggins Bowl.
“Once I learned about the scale of renovation that was planned, I said ‘Why don’t we just tear it down and start from scratch,’ ” Stiller said. “And the reaction I got was like I had just killed someone’s dog.”
At its core Kiggins Bowl remains the same as it was when it was constructed in the late 1930s. But over the past 15 months, the stadium underwent a major facelift as part of its most significant renovation in more than 50 years.
“I had a lot of people work on this project who grew up playing football in the region and played here as kids,” Stiller said. “And now they’ve been saying ‘Oh my God, this is so much nicer than it used to be.’ ”
Fans will notice too, particularly the bench seating with seatbacks on the home-side of the stadium.
“Before people had to sit on the concrete,” Stiller said. “Now they’ve got nice seats, which is great. We also replaced the visitor-side bleachers as well.”
And there is a new fieldhouse on the north end of the field, which houses two team rooms, much bigger than the damp, narrow team rooms under the grandstand. Each room includes toilets, sinks, drinking fountains and dispensers, plentiful seating and a dry-erase board.
The fieldhouse also has bathrooms for fans on the visitor side of the stadium, a second concession stand and changing rooms for the officials. The artificial turf field was also replaced.
“From a facility standpoint, it should be much drier, much cleaner, more comfortable for the fans,” Stiller said. “And for the athletes, they now have the new building instead of having to come in and out from below. They had one toilet in each room before. Now we have four toilets in each team room. So a much better experience for everybody.”
As a secondary part of the project, a second turf athletic field and a six-lane track were constructed on the north side of the complex, replacing the previous grass athletic fields.
“We’ve invested a lot of time and a lot of money to make this place a destination,” Stiller said. “And now with two turf fields, it gives a lot of opportunities to have events, too. … It went from being a stadium with a football field, used for soccer as well, to really being a sports complex.”
The biggest part of the upgrades were the weatherproofing of the concrete throughout the grandstand and the seismic upgrade to the roof of the stadium, Stiller said.
A second press box was constructed for the school district’s student-led video production team, and the roof top of the grandstand was replaced.
“That wasn’t a required part of the job,” Stiller said of the roof top. “It was a kind of decision for asset preservation, to keep the building here for as long as possible.”
That should delay someone coming up with the wild idea of tearing down the venerated stadium that has hosted high school football for nearly eight decades.