Ready for some football? So is OPRF stadium

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KATHARINE GRAYSON

Four months and $5.2 million later, Oak Park and River Forest High School celebrated a successful end to the first half of a two-part athletic facility makeover when it held the first all-school pep rally of the year at its newly renovated stadium Friday.
As promised, the stadium with its new turf, locker rooms and sound system are in place and ready for the first home football game of the year, scheduled for this Saturday.
Both the players and the fans attending this weekend's event will notice some significant changes. 
For Huskie athletes, much of the most important renovation work took place under the stands, where aging locker room facilities were significantly updated. One of the more important features added is a new ventilation system, which will improve both the health conditions inside the stadium and help cut down on lingering sweaty odors, OPRF's Director of Operations, Jack Lanenga, said.
The facility also now houses four locker rooms, one of which can be used for girls' sports, new coaching offices and expanded storage space.
One of the goals set by the high school--to make the new stadium compliant with the American Disabilities Act--has also been met. The facility now features a handicapped accessible ramp and two new public restrooms located at ground level. The aisle in front of the stands has also been widened.
And fans will actually be able hear sports commentary now that a new sound system has been installed, Lanenga said.
Portions of crumbling stairs in the stands have been replaced, and a new concession area will soon be open on the east side of the new stadium.
Work is still being done on the second level of the building to prevent water leaks.
Overall, the façade of the stadium facing Lake Street has maintained its historic character with only a few changes, such as the installation of new metal grating behind the main gate's original ironwork--an addition that has forced nearly all of the building's resident pigeons to find new homes.
"You're not going to be dive-bombed by any pigeons anymore," Lanenga said.

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