Home Alumni Drake Stadium bleachers take on new life

Drake Stadium bleachers take on new life

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Dave Grieve sits at the table he crafted out of old bleacher panels from Drake Stadium.

By Charley Magrew

With the recent renovation of Drake Stadium, the weathered wooden bleachers of many decades were replaced with new aluminum seating. Although much of the wood was disposed of, some of the old planks have been recycled into woodworking projects by two Iowans.

After retiring from Pioneer, where he was an ad manager and sales director, Dave Grieve of Ankeny, Iowa turned a 30-year hobby into First Impressions, a small woodworking company. One of his recent projects was transforming old wooden bleachers from Drake Stadium into a beautiful table.

The bleachers were installed in the 1940s, and over the years became marred from sand and grit ground into the grain of the wood. Relays fans also left their mark on the seats, carving their names and initials into the boards.

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The redwood panels add elegance to the beautiful table.

Each panel was planed down nearly one-half inch to allow for a smooth surface, and then stained for a consistency in color. Grieve says that working with the redwood was extremely difficult, almost ruined his planer and took a toll on the rest of his machinery.

Prior to beginning this project, Grieve was one of five people who took a course, led by nationally acclaimed woodworker Gary Knox Bennett, on how to build a trestle table. Grieve says the timing was perfect and the class inspired him to begin the table project.

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Panels of redwood from Drake Stadium provided opportunities for many projects at Drake employee Kevin Pendras’ home.

Another carpenter, Kevin Pendras, who has worked with Drake Facility Services for 12 years, spoke with his manager about the leftover wood that was waiting to be disposed of.

“I saw the free wood and I didn’t want to see it put in the dumpster,” said Pendras, ” I recently bought a house in New Virginia and it was in pretty rough shape, so I brought the lumber home and started using it wherever I could.”

Pendras began woodworking when he was in high school, building furniture for his mother. Some of the projects he embarked on with the bleacher wood include an outdoor porch with steps and railing, a pergola, a children’s playhouse, a garden shed, an archway on the front of the house, barn doors and wood trim inside the house. Unlike Grieve, Pendras did not plane down the boards for all of his projects.

“I made about 20 trips with my pickup truck to the Stadium and back, picking up nearly 400 boards,” said Pendras. “I had to unbolt each board, which made for a long process. I left some of the etchings in wood that is used to build the pergola, and it has messages from kids that say somebody loves so-and-so. It is pretty neat to look up and see that side of Drake’s past.”