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Update on RMU Golf Dome Collapse

Friday, June 1, 2012

At 4 pm today (Friday, June 1), sudden and catastrophic winds hit the golf dome at RMU's Island Sports Center (ISC), apparently ripping the dome surface material from its structural support system. When winds first began to rock the facility, the on-duty RMU staffer quickly assessed the situation and evacuated the 10 golfers and one co-worker who were with her inside the dome. All twelve exited without injury before the dome flattened less than one minute later. The golfers ranged in age from 17 to adulthood and included some students from nearby Sewickley Academy.

Local and RMU law enforcement, volunteer fire department and safety officers responded within minutes to secure the area. Property damage assessments, clean-up and response efforts began immediately on site and are continuing tonight.

The RMU golf dome and mini-golf course are closed until further notice pending clean-up and recovery operations, and RMU ISC staff are contacting anyone scheduled to use these facilities in the near future to make alternative arrangements.

The 70-foot-high, 240-foot-wide and 350-foot-long golf dome is made of a high-quality coated fabric called Dupont Tedlar. It relies on air pressure and a cable-and-frame system connected to a hard-shelled vestibule with an airtight doorway to maintain its shape. The facility received excellent ratings in its August 2011 annual preventative maintenance inspection and is routinely serviced by an on-site engineer.  

“In the 12 years we’ve been operating the dome, we’ve never seen anything like this,” said ISC Executive Director David Hanson. “And we’ve been through plenty of severe weather conditions, from rain and wind to heavy snow.” Ohio Township volunteer fire fighters at the scene commended RMU Administrative Assistant Heidi Wiedenhofer for her immediate and professional response to get all the people inside out safely within seconds of the freak wind’s first strike.

The university is working with its insurance company, safety agencies, facility manufacturers and service vendors to ensure that all affected property and land remains secure as plans to repair or replace the dome are evaluated. We will share updates with the board and university community as they become known.