Aluminum Bleachers Primer

What exactly are bleachers? “Bleachers” is the common word used to describe the raised, tiered stands found flanking amateur public and private sports fields or at other outdoor event venues. Bleachers are long rows of plank bench seating, typically designed in an alternating steps-and-seats configuration. They range in size from small, modular, aluminum stands that can be moved around football, soccer, field hockey, or softball/baseball fields (so-called tip-n-roll bleachers) to large permanent structures that flank either side of a high school athletic field. They typically represent a permanent seating solution that is fixed in place, anchored and not moved.

Bleachers are hollow underneath, aside from their support structures. Indoor gymnasium bleachers are usually attached to the walls on either side of a playing court and slide on a track or on wheels to retract when not in use, and extend for event seating. These are often called telescopic bleachers or telescoping bleachers. Traditionally, telescopic bleacher seats have been made of wood, but more recently, technology advancements have caused a change in design and material to eliminate the chronic problem of bleacher sag which, over time, prohibits older systems from retracting and being stored away. Molded plastic seats and an aluminum frame are the preferred materials for telescopic/telescoping retractable bleachers today.

Aluminum Bleachers generally fit into one of four categories: permanent/stationary, portable/movable, telescopic/folding, and temporary. Temporary aluminum bleachers are typically stored in pieces and are intended for use only during specific events, such as circuses, golf tournaments, and parades.

Whether installed for long-term or portable use, a bleacher is commonly made of aluminum or steel. Portable aluminum bleachers generally have added features like casters and rubber footpads that prevent them from damaging the floor as they are moved. There are also elevated and tiered bleachers, as well as straight bleacher benches. Sometimes bleachers are colorfully painted for an added touch of team spirit. But at their most basic, bleachers are designed for durability in outdoor as well as indoor settings; they are economic yet comfortable, made to withstand the normal wear and tear that often erupts from excited crowds.

What are my choices for bleachers?
How do I determine what size bleachers I need?
When purchasing bleachers, are there any other products I should be considering?

A Brief History of Bleachers
Where does the word “bleachers” come from?The Chicago Tribune coined the term “bleachers” in 1889. Bleachers are usually located in the area just past the outfield fence of the left and right fields in many baseball stadiums. Because this part of Wrigley field is not covered, the sun beat down on it and caused the color of the seats to fade, or “bleach”. Anyone who has done a load of laundry knows the word “bleach” means to make white or lighten the color of something. The word “bleachers” is now a part of our everyday language. Rarely made from wood today, with aluminum as the material of choice, this type of seating is common in other types of arenas, and is even found indoors in gymnasiums, usually in a fold-away telescopic configuration.
Interesting Bleachers Trivia: Why don't most baseball stadiums allow fans to sit in the center field bleachers?
Did you every notice that at Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, and almost all other stadiums with outfield bleachers, there are empty bleachers in center field? The centerfield bleachers are in the line of sight of the batter while watching the pitch. If occupied, they would be distracting and it would prove difficult for the batter to follow the ball. Thus, these bleacher seats are intentionally left empty, and usually painted a dark color (black in the case of Yankee Stadium centerfield bleachers) to provide a dark contrast to the white leather of a baseball.
Why is there a single bleacher seat in Boston's Fenway Park that is painted red?
The seat painted red in the bleachers marks the spot where Ted Williams hit the longest home run in Fenway Park history.
Did you know?
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the largest sporting facility in the world. Its bleachers contain over 257,000 permanent seats, and when additional infield spectator seats are added, the Speedway can hold over 400,000 people.
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