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By Terry Dean
Contrary to the perception of a handful of readers at OakPark.com, Oak Park and River Forest High School's new press box is not the Taj Mahal.
There is no kitchen, no luxurious bathroom, and no "man cave" in the space, as some readers sarcastically predicted. It is roomier, cleaner and more technically up to date than the rickety 50-year-old press box that the school demolished in June. At just under 500 square feet and costing nearly $200,000, the new press box passed a safety inspection last Thursday by the Regional Office of Education and will be fully operational in time for the start of the football season. The school's first home game is Aug 24.
The press box was built off-site and on July 9 was hoisted atop the bleachers at OPRF's Lake Street football stadium. Nothing was saved or salvaged from the old press box, said Athletic Director John Stelzer. Some cosmetic and wiring work is being finished in the new space, but it will be ready when classes resume for all students on Aug. 23, Stelzer said.
There's space for home and visiting coaches, as well as media covering the games, announcers, statisticians and videographers. Coaches will use wireless headsets, as they did in the old space, to communicate with coaches on the sidelines. The press box has ventilation and floor heating, said Stelzer, who did a walk-through last Friday morning, as the varsity football team practiced on the field.
The old press box was built in 1962 and was completely demolished in June a day after the school's graduation ceremony.