BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Feb. 18, 2014)—The Indiana University men’s basketball game against Iowa scheduled for Tuesday night has been postponed after a piece of metal fell from the ceiling, damaging lower level seats.
IU officials said the metal facing measured to be about 8 feet long and 14 inches wide. The 50-pound metal fell and damaged seats in the lower part of Section F, which is located in the northwest corner of the building.
All four corners of the stands have been closed off with tape. Preliminary assessments indicate melting snow and ice on the roof became too much to handle, but it appears it was an isolated event.
“With the snow and ice accumulation, it settled at the lowest point at the curve in such a magnitude that it essentially popped that bottom plate off,” said Fred Glass, IU Vice President and Director of Athletics. “The load that this roof has had to take is pretty unusual. Everybody knows the snow and ice that we’ve had.”
Structural engineers have ruled out any long-term maintenance issues. Tom Morrison, IU vice president of capital planning and facilities, said the roof is structurally sound. The plating, which is strictly ornamental, may be removed.
“The good news is the solution to the problem that we know right now is just to take off those pieces off,” said Morrison.
Glass and other university officials were meeting inside the building when it happened. Ironically, the group was meeting for the first time to discuss the $40-million renovations expected to start 2016. It made for a quick response to postpone Tuesday’s game.
“It’s a tough situation to look at. You feel bad for everyone involved,” said IU Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Tom Crean. “You just realize that an incredible tragic crisis was averted.”
The Pacers offered the two teams to play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but IU felt it would have been too hard logistically to transfer thousands of fans and season ticket-holders in a short amount of time. The two teams have 72 hours to come up with a make-up game, according to Big Ten Network rules.
“Seating arrangements here at Assembly Hall and Bankers Life Fieldhouse are not apples to apples,” said Glass. “As a host, it was our responsibility whether we could host a Big Ten game. My conclusion was that we could not.”
University officials will be taking a look from the ground and up and begin repairs Wednesday morning. They expect to know by noon if all other regularly scheduled games will still be held at home.
IU’s women basketball game against Michigan will go on as scheduled Wednesday night.
“The safety of our fans, players, visitors is paramount in our mind,” said Glass. “Everything else takes a backseat to that.”
Photo courtesy of Jordan Littman: