‘Profound sadness’: Board chair, athlete react to Dome collapse
Last updated at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22.
Events at The Dome have been postponed indefinitely after heavy snowfall caused the roof to collapse Saturday evening.
The popular indoor sports facility was evacuated around 4 p.m. after the roof began to sag under the weight of the snow, according to Mike Martin, chairman of The Dome’s board.
Martin confirmed that no one was inside beneath the roof when the collapse occurred just before midnight. He added that no one was injured, including the crew working to remove snow at the time of the collapse.
He called the collapse of The Dome a surprise and “a big loss to the community.”
No structural damage was observed over the weekend. Parts of the fabric were torn and will need to be replaced before The Dome can be inflated again, Martin confirmed. He said the manufacturer will arrive in Anchorage Wednesday but offered no timeline for repair.
Insurance adjusters were on site Monday assessing damage and the area has been blocked off to the public.
“Last night I was here when it finally gave way, and the first thought that popped through my mind was a few months ago, I was standing above the track watching my high school senior and my high school freshman compete in a track event where they were on the same relay team,” Martin said, recalling what he described as a pretty special moment. “So it’s a huge impact to Alaska youth athletics.”
The 180,000-square-foot facility, located next to Anchorage’s Changepoint church, is the largest of its kind on the planet, according to the nonprofit’s website. The entire structure was held up by pressurized air and a series of cables and buried pipes.
The multi-use sports facility would see up to a few thousand people on some days, with a few hundred people inside at once at certain high points, Martin explained.
“When we saw that it was actually collapsing, it was just sad,” he said. “I didn’t feel fear because of the hard structure we were under, but profound sadness. That was my feeling.”
Daniel King said he plays soccer in The Dome with his team, the Philociraptors, about once a week, and has for at least a few years. He said they used to also play in the AT&T Sports Center, but since it closed, The Dome became their only indoor space to play. He called the loss devastating.
“It’s basically a black abyss. Without The Dome, we don’t have anywhere to play, so we’re probably not going to play this season,” he said. “They’re going to try and look at locations for us to play, but I don’t really know what options there are in Anchorage.”
King said his team is just one in the soccer league that uses The Dome, among other sports, so there’s going to be a large need now for play space.
Martin said insurance company covering The Dome had been contacted and confirmed they had “adequate insurance” to cover the loss. He said a reserve fund also existed for when the fabric of the dome would need to be replaced, which he said would be after 25 or 30 years of use. He estimated that The Dome was constructed in 2006. Martin noted that the track and turf are outdoor-grade material and were undamaged by the collapse.
Martin did not have an estimate on the total cost of damages or a timeline for reconstruction, but said the plan was to reinflate the dome once repairs or replacement had been completed.
The public is asked to stay away from the collapsed structure while work continues to secure damaged equipment and begin repairs.
KTVA 11’s Eric Ruble, Jason Sear and Shannon Riddle contributed to this report.
Events at The Dome were cancelled Saturday and all occupants were evacuated as heavy snow began to cause the roof to sink.
“The snow load is causing some slight depression in the roof, and we’re working to remove the snow from the top of the facility,” explained Mike Martin, chairman of the facility’s board.
The Dome, located at 6501 Changepoint Drive, is a multi-use sports complex. The turf area was closed as of noon, according to a post on The Dome’s Facebook page. The entire dome area, including the track, was later closed for the rest of the day.
“There have been periods of heavy snow in Anchorage throughout the years The Dome has been opened, so it’s not an uncommon thing for us to have to remove snow from the roof, just like many other buildings in town,” Martin said.
He did not know when The Dome would reopen to the public.
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.
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