Indiana University officials plan to continue evaluating and begin repairs on Assembly Hall on Wednesday morning after a 50-pound piece of metal fell from the arena's ceiling, damaging lower-level seats.
The IU men’s basketball game against University of Iowa scheduled for Tuesday night was postponed after the piece of metal, measuring 8-feet-14-inches, fell Tuesday afternoon in the lower part of Section F, located in the northwest corner of the building.
Preliminary assessments indicated that melting snow and ice on the roof caused the damage.
“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, could be removed.
“The good news is the solution to the problem that we know right now is just to take off those pieces off,” Morrison said.
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 renovation expected to start in 2016.
“You just realize that an incredible tragic crisis was averted,” said Tom Crean, IU men’s basketball head coach.
The Indiana Pacers have offered let Iowa and IU play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, but IU officials felt it would be too hard logistically to accommodate 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,” Glass said.
Repairs are expected to begin Wednesday morning. IU officials expect to know by noon whether other regularly scheduled games will still be held at Assembly Hall.
IBJ's news-gathering partner Fox59 contributed to this report.