Basketball back at Assembly Hall after inspection

IU's women's basketball team warms up before Wednesday's game.
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It was game on at Indiana University Wednesday night, one day after a 50-pound piece of metal fell from the ceiling in Assembly Hall.

Engineers confirmed the cause of the accident was weather-related and declared the building safe for fans, as the IU women took on Michigan.

Inside Assembly Hall Wednesday, there were the typical signs before tip-off: fans buying food, the pep band jamming and the teams high-fiving on the court.

But one look around, and there were signs of a crisis averted: a large crane near the bleachers, roped-off seats in the stands and some extra protection brought by a few fans.

Lisa Meunier and her 10-year-old son, Luc, wore hard hats to the game.

"We've got helmets. We've got signs. We're good to go," Meunier said. "We weren't gonna let a little falling debris keep us from the game tonight!"

Lisa and her son brought a little levity to the game, after what could have been a crisis near the court Tuesday.

An eight-foot, 50-pound piece of metal fell from the ceiling and crashed onto the seats in Section F hours before the men's game against Iowa Tuesday.

"We wouldn't be here if they had concerns. I'm sure they wouldn't take that kind of risk," Meunier told another fan in the stands.

In fact, one day later, engineers deemed Assembly Hall safe.

They used a crane to examine that metal facing near the ceiling and confirmed pressure from an unusually large amount of heavy snow and ice on the roof caused the steel to pop off.

Engineers found two or three other loose plates Wednesday, but said they were not in danger of falling.

Now they're working on a permanent fix for any future major weather event, which could involve removing all the metal facing.

"Frankly, given the detail in which the structural engineers have gone over that area, this probably will be the safest building in the Big Ten, if not the country, when they're done," said IU Athletic Director Fred Glass.

"I think it was just a freak accident and I don't think it'll happen again," said IU season ticket holder Vincent Payne.

Fans say they do feel safe and some see a silver lining in getting back to basketball so quickly.

"Since tragedy was averted and nothing bad happened and due diligence has been done, hope that our Lady Hoosiers will get some of the attention that they deserve," Meunier said.

University leaders say they're confident Assembly Hall will be ready for the men's game against Ohio State on March 2.

They're also still negotiating a make-up date for the postponed game with Iowa.