FORT WAYNE — Indiana was still formulating a plan to make Assembly Hall safe for men’s basketball games one day after a nearly 50-pound steel plate fell from the arena’s ceiling and crashed into seats in the northwest corner.
Athletic director Fred Glass said an inspection Wednesday revealed that two or three more plates were loose but in no imminent danger of falling. The plate that fell came down about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, forcing the Hoosiers to postpone their game against No. 15 Iowa that night.
“We continue to be working on the assessment, the nature of those plates, whether they do have any sort of structural utility or not, and then what the best method is going to be to remediate those,” Glass said at a news conference.
“Those details are being worked out.”
Engineers first suspected the plates that run from the four corners of the arena to the middle of the roof were just decorative, but now there is a question of their purpose.
The university could either remove the plates completely or remove and then reattach them, 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.”
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.
The Indiana-Iowa game could be played before the Hoosiers play host to the Buckeyes.
“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.
Wednesday’s inspection of Assembly Hall did confirm the original conclusion that the accident happened because of an immense amount of snow and ice.
“They speculate that it was probably the biggest load that the roof has borne, if you will,” Glass said. “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.”
IU was able to play its scheduled women’s home game against Michigan on Wednesday with the four corners of the 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 similar plates. IU lost 70-58.
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.
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.