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With roof repaired, SkyDome reopens

By Times staff and wire reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 14, 2001

TORONTO -- One game was lost, but the retractable roof at SkyDome was repaired in time for the Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals to play Friday afternoon.

"Safety issues regarding the roof have been cleared," team spokesman Howard Starkman said.

A mechanical malfunction in the facility's retractable roof resulted in one panel crashing into another during a routine test. The collision ripped a big hole in the roof and sent huge chunks of debris crashing to the SkyDome turf.

The damage occurred during a routine test. A giant panel -- one of three movable panels in the roof -- jammed, causing another panel to ram into the stalled section. That ripped off some sheet metal and insulation, which fell to the ground in left field.

Tropicana Field is less likely to incur similar problems because of the stadium's design. Without the retractable roof, the possibility of mechanical failure is eliminated. Tropicana Field also features a fabric roof, unlike SkyDome's fixed roof.

The greatest potential for an accident with the Trop's roof would be falling pieces from the ring supports and catwalks around the stadium and those structures are continuously inspected.

Royals pitching coach Brent Strom was on the SkyDome field when the collision occurred.

"It just didn't seem right. It looked like they were trying to close the dome and it was making funny sounds," Strom said. -- Staff writer John Romano contributed to this report.

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