The Mahaney Dome on the University of Maine campus in Orono, which was damaged and collapsed under the weight of heavy, wet snow and high winds on Dec. 29, 2016, reopened on Feb. 2, but it will continue to be evaluated.
After the tears were repaired and the dome was reinflated, damage to the interior of the dome and the lights was discovered and repairs were made to them.
“The engineers evaluated it and gave us the green light for temporary occupancy,” said Will Biberstein, the senior associate athletic director for internal operations.
Biberstein said that temporary occupancy means that the dome must be inspected daily, before it opens and after it closes, and “we close the facility if we get severe weather.”
The Black Bear baseball and softball teams were the first squads to use the dome after it was reopened, and the football and women’s soccer teams also have been able to use it.
“And we’re continuing to work with campus recreation to get the students back in. That should happen soon,” said Biberstein.
He said the dome will continue to be evaluated and the company handling the assessment will provide its report to the university in “three to five weeks.”
The dome was built in 2006 and measures 200 feet by 200 feet and stands 55 feet high at the center. It has an artificial grass surface. It was built with a $1 million gift from late UMaine benefactor and local businessman Larry K. Mahaney.
The storm in December 2016 resulted in a vertical tear that spanned 90 to 100 feet and a horizontal tear that was 8 to 10 feet.
A storm back in 2007 caused it to collapse, and it was out of service for two weeks. But there was just one tear, and it spanned 16 to 20 feet.
The facility is in use 18-19 hours per day this time of year through the early spring.
“We’re slowly getting people back in here,” said Biberstein.
“It is an important facility for the campus and the community. Being able to have that indoor space during the hard winter months is important for everybody,” he added.
He also said they will continue to monitor the facility to “make sure it is safe.”