Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said engineers confirmed Wednesday that the cause of an approximately 50-pound steel plate to fall from the roof of Assembly Hall on Tuesday afternoon was because of an immense amount of snow and ice.
The basketball arena’s roof has an intentionally designed valley that snow collected in and when it melted the weight popped the plating from the ceiling onto seats in the facility’s northwest corner forcing the postponement of Tuesday night’s men’s basketball game against No. 15 Iowa.
“They speculate that it was probably the biggest load that the roof has borne, if you will,” Glass said at a Wednesday news conference. “All that pressure went to where that plate was and essentially popped it off, which, of course, is a flaw in a variety of ways. But a targeted and unique event.”
Glass said the engineers gave the university confidence that Assembly Hall will be given clearance for the Hoosiers to play their next home basketball game against Ohio State on March. 2.
Glass said IU is still working with Iowa to reschedule the game. The Big Ten gives schools 72 hours after a game is postponed to agree on a new date before the conference sets a makeup date.
“We’re confident that we’ll reach a mutually acceptable time and date within the 72-hour window that we have to do so, and we’re confident that game will be here at Assembly Hall,” Glass said.
IU was able to play its scheduled women’s home game against Michigan on Wednesday night with the four corners of arena roped off and the baseline bleachers pushed back to keep fans away from where the plate fell and the three other corners that have like plates.
The Hoosiers’ final men’s home game is against Nebraska on March 5, and the final women’s home game is Feb. 27 against Illinois.
Glass said the final answer to make sure Assembly Hall is safe is still ongoing. One more hurdle to clear is if the plating that fell is purely decorative as first suspected or if the beams serve a structural purpose.
Glass said two or three other plates were loose but were not in danger of falling off. The university may be able to remove the plates completely or have to remove and then re-secure the plates, Glass said.
“Everything has a redundancy in engineering design and architectural design,” said Tom Morrison, the university’s vice president for capital planning and facilities. “They are going back through the old drawings and original blueprints of the building to look at what was the intent of the time.”
The 17,472-seat arena opened in 1971. There is already a planned renovation of the facility, which is expected to be completed by 2016. It will be renamed Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in honor of Cindy Simon Skjodt, who donated $40 million for the project in December.