Investigation into Assembly Hall metal fall continues

Cause was likely weather-related

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Fans arrived to Indiana University’s Assembly Hall on Wednesday evening for a women’s basketball game just one day after metal fell from the ceiling, damaging seats inside the arena.

Engineers used a crane to inspect the roof of Assembly Hall a day after an 8-foot-long, 50-pound piece of metal came loose from the arena's ceiling and crashed into a group of empty seats below.

The incident happened Tuesday afternoon, just hours before a scheduled men’s basketball game against Iowa. The game was later postponed out of safety concerns.

Engineers focused on a buildup of snow on the building’s scooped roof. As the snow melted, it created a superload, which created pressure that then forced the metal plate to pop off, officials said during a press conference.

Inspections confirmed that two or three other plates had also come loose, but were not in danger of falling.

"We do believe that we understand the cause and that it is largely limited to the plates that bear the full brunt of that snow," IU Athletic Director Fred Glass said.

Officials accelerated the melting process for the remaining snow and ice on the roof of the 43-year-old building. Engineers made visual inspections along the roof and within the area where the plate came loose.

University officials said they don't believe there are structural issues with the roof, but they might consider taking a look at long-term design changes.

"We are going to err on the caution of safety, absolutely, then we will get Fred back up there with a solution," IU Vice President Tom Morrison said.

Officials said they are confident they know the cause of what could have been a deadly accident and they will make the necessary repairs to make Assembly Hall one of the safest college basketball arenas in the nation.

University officials said they could have removed other metal plates, but they first want to be sure that it wouldn’t cause other issues.

Engineers believe the building will be ready well before the men’s Ohio State game on March 2.

Glass said he was confident that officials would be able to reschedule the Iowa game.

Follow Chris Proffitt on Twitter: @chrisproffitt

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