How to Choose the Right Football Bleachers: Factors to Consider
You want your spectators to have the best possible experience in your stadium – and that starts with the football bleachers. Every detail matters, from their seating capacity to their materials and accessibility features.
Over the last 20 years, GT Grandstands has installed more than one million football stadium seats. We’ve seen what works (and what doesn't), and we know exactly how to help clients design and implement the perfect seating arrangements for their needs.
If you’re looking to install bleachers for football fields, take a minute to look over this guide. You’ll find a long list of considerations and best practices that will help you make the best decision when choosing your bleachers.
Don’t forget: if you haven’t been able to find a bleacher setup that works with your stadium, you can always custom-build a structure based on your needs!
Factors to Consider While Choosing Football Stadium Bleachers
1. Seating Capacity and Layout
The first thing you’ll want to consider when installing any kind of sports seating is your capacity and layout requirements. You need to know your bleachers can seat the anticipated number of spectators comfortably and safely.
Of course, capacity needs are heavily dependent on many factors, including location. For example, high school football bleachers might not need more than 5,000 seats in a Northern state, but you’ll certainly need thousands more than that for Friday night lights in Texas.
Over or underestimating your bleachers’ seating capacity needs can lead to wasted money and a less-than-ideal sports fan experience – both of which will put a damper on next season’s events.
Think long and hard about your layout requirements. Your bleachers should offer a clear, unobstructed view of the playing field from as many seating sections as possible. Additionally, you need to strategically incorporate aisles and passageways to facilitate the flow of spectators to and from their seats. The best way to decide on your layout and capacity needs: talk to your contractor. They’ll walk you through the different sizes available, from small portable bleachers to large grandstands that can seat tens of thousands.
2. Safety and Comfort
Next up, consider the safety requirements for bleachers. It doesn’t matter if you’re adding seats for a small middle school or a huge university – safety in bleacher design is of the utmost importance.
Some of the most crucial safety features you’ll need to plan for include…
- Proper structural integrity
- Accessibility features
- Clear egress routes
- Weather protection
All of these are essential components when it comes to preventing accidents, managing large crowds, and complying with regulations.
Speaking of regulations, there are many that can impact bleachers for football stadiums. For example, the International Building Code provides comprehensive rules for bleachers’ structural requirements, seating arrangements, guardrails, handrails, and accessibility standards. Your local building department may also have particular safety standards for bleachers, so look into those and get fire marshal approval. Doing so will significantly reduce the risk of spectator hazards, as well as the stadium’s liability risks.
3. Material and Durability
Have you thought about what materials you’ll use to construct your stadium seating? Football bleacher construction involves various materials, each with its own advantages and considerations.
Here's an overview of some commonly used bleacher frame materials:
Aluminum football bleachers are a popular choice due to their lightweight nature, corrosion resistance, and durability. These bleachers are typically easy to transport, assemble, and install, making them suitable for both temporary and permanent structures.
Galvanized steel bleachers are known for their strength and are therefore suitable for large, permanent installations. They can support heavy loads and provide a robust seating solution.
However, non-galvanized steel bleachers need to be covered in protective coatings to prevent rust and corrosion.
Concrete bleachers provide a solid, long-lasting seating option, especially in places that frequently experience bad or extreme weather. Unfortunately, they are also more expensive to construct and might take longer to install compared to other bleacher options.
Historically a common material for bleacher construction, wood has declined in popularity due to maintenance requirements and fire safety concerns. Despite its classic look, wood is also prone to rot, insect damage, and deterioration.
Materials such as fiberglass-reinforced plastics offer a combination of strength, durability, and corrosion resistance. They are suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications, and they can mimic the appearance of wood or other materials while still offering resistance to weather.
Lastly, plastic materials like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are occasionally used for lightweight, temporary bleachers for football stadiums. They lack the strength of metal or concrete, but they are easier to transport, assemble, and store.
Ultimately, the material you choose should reflect many considerations, including your venue’s budget, the bleachers’ intended use, your expected seating capacity, and aesthetic preferences.
4. Accessibility and ADA Compliance
Your stadium’s bleachers should be accessible to all, including individuals with disabilities. That means you’ll need to plan for elements that facilitate social integration, diversity, and a sense of belonging amongst all kinds of attendees.
Achieving accessibility compliance isn’t just advised – it’s required by law. ADA requirements for bleacher seating in the United States mandate that stadiums and other venues provide accessible seating, pathways, and facilities. ADA-compliant bleachers must also have certain handrail heights, ramps, and slip-resistant surfaces.
To learn more, visit the ADA’s archives on stadiums.
5. Installation and Portability
There are many design elements that impact the ease of installation and the portability of football bleachers.
Some portable bleachers are equipped with modular designs that fit seamlessly together, making them easy to set up and dismantle. Other bleachers are made to be permanently installed with the use of heavy, sturdy materials like concrete. What does your stadium or event center need? Have you thought about the logistics of bleachers installation and what you will need to do after the football season ends? Talk to your seating contractor to ensure you’ve thought about every angle.
6. Football Bleachers Cost
Now it’s time to think about the cost of bleachers. All of the factors we’ve just listed, from size to materials, will impact the financial aspect of installing new football stadium seating.
Every organization wants to invest in high-quality seats that enhance the spectator experience – but they also need to balance the bleachers cost with budget constraints. It’s not just about anticipating installation expenses, but also about planning for long-term maintenance costs.
This is an area in which we have a lot of experience. Many customers approach GT Grandstands with specific financial requirements, and our team has to walk them through the process of balancing quality and customization with cost-effectiveness.
Fortunately, over two decades in the industry have helped us identify the top tips:
- Clearly define what you need. Your essential requirements will always take precedence over optional customization features.
- Research your material choices. Understand the pros and cons of different materials, as well as the price tags associated with each of them.
- Explore the possibilities. When you are willing to adapt and consider alternative options to meet your needs, you can find more flexible, creative solutions for staying within your budget.
Striking the right balance requires careful deliberation and a thorough understanding of your venue's requirements. If you’re not really sure what those are, sit down with a qualified contractor to identify them.
7. Custom Football Bleachers
Customization plays a pivotal role in aligning your bleachers with your stadium's aesthetics and branding. You want everything to suit your team spirit, from the overall design to its color palette.
Furthermore, custom-built bleachers allow you to carefully tailor things like…
- Seating tier arrangement and viewpoints
- Entry and exit points
- Spectator flow
- Space optimization
Additionally, customization takes into account the unique space availability of your venue. That means you can better adapt to irregular layout requirements or build in necessary restricted areas. When you design and install custom bleachers, you don’t just check logistical boxes – you elevate the overall stadium atmosphere and strengthen its identity. Customization also ensures your stadium is perfectly suited to your audience, location, and risks.
Need Football Bleachers? We’re Your Team.
There are many factors to consider when designing and installing football field bleachers. If you’re not sure where to begin, don’t worry – that’s what we’re here for.
GT Grandstands is a leading designer and manufacturer of grandstands and bleacher seats in the United States. We offer a wide range of products and services to meet all of your seating needs, including custom football bleachers for high schools and universities. If standard types of bleachers don’t meet your site and capacity needs, let’s talk. We’re happy to design something for your unique circumstances.