Rip. Tear. Blow. Gone.
In a little over a minute, St. Ambrose University director of athletic facilities Tony Huntley watched the recently renovated Ambrose Dome get torn to shreds as Monday’s derecho and its winds of around 100 miles per hour blew through north Davenport.
"It was less than 90 seconds. Just that fast, it was gone," Huntley said.
Heavily used by Fighting Bees athletic teams throughout the year, a new artificial turf had been installed in May at the facility which first opened 15 years ago this month.
Huntley had arrived at the site shortly before the storm blew in on Monday.
He had entered the revolving doors as winds began to pick up, but quickly retreated to his GMC Yukon sports utility vehicle as he felt the velocity of the wind increase rapidly.
"I ran back to my car. I didn’t feel safe staying inside and once I got back to my car, it felt like it was being lifted up," Huntley said. "It was that powerful. I looked up and saw a rip along the seam, right down the middle of the west section."
The rip grew into a tear and as the winds howled, all Huntley saw were pieces of dome’s fabric take flight.
"It happened so incredibly fast," Huntley said. "What was left when it was over, it was enough to make you cry. It was just gone."
Huntley said this was different than the last time the dome had a structural issue.
That was in 2015 when the 67,000-square foot facility that normally rises 75 feet from the ground collapsed during a winter storm.
In that instance, a heavy, wet snow created two holes near the top of the dome and caused it to deflate.
The holes were patched at that time, but that won’t be the case now.
Huntley said the situation complicates practice schedule issues for athletic programs at St. Ambrose, which recently had nearly all of its fall sports programs shift to spring schedules because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It was going to be a busy winter and spring even with the Dome. Without it, it becomes much more difficult," Huntley said.
The facility was already being used this week for a preseason camp for the St. Ambrose marching band and the Fighting Bees’ soccer teams had plans to use it in upcoming weeks for training.
During the fall semester, which begins next Monday at St. Ambrose, the Ambrose Dome is typically used from 1:30-9 p.m. daily, according to Huntley.
In the winter and into the spring, practices begin as early as 5:30 a.m. and run as late as 10:30 p.m. as the indoor facility is used by the school’s football, baseball, softball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s track and field teams.
The Fighting Bees softball team traditionally hosts several early season tournaments there in February.
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