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Engineering DesignNews

Fun Fact Friday: Bleacher Design

By May 17, 2019No Comments3 min read

If you’re a sports fan, you’ve probably spent a lot of time in the bleachers. If you’ve attended a concert or event at our local Erie County Fairgrounds, you likely sat in the grandstand. But did you ever wonder what the difference between a ‘bleacher’ and a ‘grandstand’ is? Actually, according to ICC 300-2017 “Standard for Bleachers, Folding and Telescopic Seating, and Grandstands” there is none! The definitions for each are:
• GRANDSTAND is “Tiered seating supported on a dedicated structural system and two or more rows high (see “Bleachers”).
• BLEACHER is “Tiered seating supported on a dedicated structural system and two or more rows high (see “Grandstand”).

It is generally accepted that grandstands are larger than bleachers.

Bleachers are a popular seating choice for spectators, fans, and players to gather in large numbers and view local sporting events, ceremonies, motorsports, and other community activities. They are the primary seating for spectators. They are customizable for visual appeal with items such as color and style. As engineers, we are interested in the design and construction of bleachers and grandstands.

Almost everything we use is influenced by engineers! ICC 300-2017 is a document published by the International Code Council outlining provisions consistent with the ICC family of codes. The purpose of this standard is to protect public health, safety and welfare through structural strength, means of egress, and stability – and a document referenced by engineers. This standard provides a guide to design grandstands and bleachers with prescribed loads like sway, wind, live and load combinations. Included in the design of bleachers are:
• Raker Beams or Stringers
• Cross Beams
• Columns
• Cross-Bracing
• Foundations
• Press Boxes
• Railing and Rail posts

There are many types of bleachers and components:
• Galvanized or Powder Coated Steel / Aluminum
• Elevated / Non-Elevated
• Portable Angle Frame
• Tip & Roll
• Permanent Beam
• Handicap Platforms
• Covered Grandstands
• Bench Seating / Chair Seating
• Picket Railings
• Ramps / Stairs
• Number of Rows
• Sightlines

Encorus is currently working with E&D Specialty Stands, Inc. in North Collins, NY. They are a top three leader in the country for providing bleachers and grandstands to high schools, universities, motorsports, professional sports venues and private owners. We are currently working on a University of Connecticut (UCONN) project which includes 5 total bleachers: baseball, softball and three bleachers around their new soccer field.

If you are in need of bleacher design or if you have any questions, contact Structural Engineer Gerald P. Sullivan, PE, at or (716) 592-3980 ext 160.