Storm-damaged Muncie Fieldhouse set for repairs

Photo of Muncie Fieldhouse courtesy of Vickie Friar Jones

MUNCIE, Ind. — A central Indiana fieldhouse that’s one of the nation’s largest high school basketball venues is set for emergency repairs nine months after a severe thunderstorm ripped a hole in its roof and ruptured water lines that flooded its hardwood basketball court.

The Muncie Community School Board authorized emergency roof repairs Tuesday to the Muncie Fieldhouse, allowing for repair work to proceed without seeking competitive bids, The Star Press reported .

School board President Jim Williams called the 90-year-old building “a symbol of the community.”

The gym, which opened in 1928, had an original seating capacity of 7,635 but a section of stands was closed off in 2016 due to structural problems. It now seats about 6,000.

A severe thunderstorm last November toppled part of the building’s brick facade onto the fieldhouse’s roof, ripping a hole in the roof and rupturing water pipes. The resulting cascade of water damaged the Muncie gymnasium’s hardwood basketball court.

The district in the city that’s about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of Indianapolis has already received an insurance settlement of about $900,000 to repair the damage, and will get another $340,000 once repairs begin.

While the district isn’t required to advertise for roof repair bids, it’s still obligated to seek quotes from at least two companies that do such repairs.

Board member Jim Lowe said the quotes will be for structural repairs to truss decking, the roof, the roofline parapet wall that fell over, a fire service line and possibly some seating damaged by the collapse.

“With any luck, we can get this done in the next three to four months,” he said.

Muncie Community Schools is a financially struggling school district that’s overseen by state-appointed emergency manager Steve Edwards, who plans to ask the school board to approve one of two or three quotes at its Aug. 28 meeting.