Metal piece falls into seats of IU's Assembly Hall
Tuesday night's basketball game between Indiana and Iowa will be postponed after a piece of metal fell from the ceiling into seats in the lower bowl at Assembly Hall.
The metal facing is eight feet long and 14 inches wide. It fell about 100 feet, damaging seats in the lower part of Section F, which is located in the northwest corner of the building.
"Safety is our number one priority," said Indiana University Vice President and Director of Athletics Fred Glass. "Our university engineers have advised us to postpone events in Assembly Hall until it can be determined what caused the facing to fall and ensure the safety of everyone attending an event in the facility."
Glass said at a press conference Tuesday evening the piece of metal that fell was not structural, but ornamental. The university is considering removing all of the plating as a precaution.
He said it is possible that ice and snow settled onto steel beams on the roof and popped the metal piece free.
ESPN cameras were rolling inside the arena, preparing to broadcast Tuesday night's game. One camera captured the metal striking the seats, which, a few hours later, would have been packed with fans.
"You realize what an absolute crisis was averted," said IU men's basketball coach Tom Crean.
"There's the glass is half full or the glass is half empty and this glass is half full, because no one got hurt," Glass said. "Thank goodness this wasn't a tragedy."
The arena's roof, which is just three years old, was last inspected in the fall. Engineers were at Assembly Hall for a renovation meeting when the metal fell. They said the incident is not a sign of a long-term structural issue.
Sections of seats have been roped off in the corner where the metal fell, including an end section of student seating behind the basket. Engineers say the court is still safe and so are the seats in the middle.
Wednesday night's women's basketball game between IU and Michigan will be played as scheduled. Administrators from Indiana and Iowa are working on a plan to reschedule Tuesday's game. They have 72 hours to come up with a plan to replay the game.
Even though they didn't get to play Tuesday, Crean is okay with the decision.
"Disappointed we didn't get to do that, but that pales in comparison to what any of us would have felt like at 9:30 or 10:00 tonight if something would have happened inside that building," the coach said.