For the second time in three years, the Mahaney Dome on the University of Maine’s campus in Orono has collapsed.
Last Thursday’s torrential rainstorm combined with ice, snow and wind to bring down the pressurized, air-filled structure, which serves as a practice facility for Black Bear athletic teams.
UMaine softball head coach Mike Coutts and six of his players were inside the dome when it collapsed.
“It wasn’t a dangerous situation. We had plenty of time to get out,” Coutts said.
Margaret Nagle, the senior director of public relations and operations in the division of marketing and communications at UMaine, wrote in a release that no one was injured, and damage to the dome was evaluated and it is being repaired.
She said the facility was expected to be reinflated late Monday afternoon or early Tuesday morning. Following an inspection, it could be ready for use as early as Tuesday afternoon.
Several UMaine teams use the facility, and it is used by the community.
The facility was built in 2006 and has an artificial grass surface. It measures 200 feet by 200 feet and stands 55 feet high.
“Any time you have a fabric structure, you run the risk of it being damaged,” UMaine Athletic Director Ken Ralph said. “The facility staff has done a nice job [repairing the tear]. It is obviously a key facility. So many [varsity] teams and club sports, students, and community members use it.
“We need to come up with a more permanent solution.”
The UMaine baseball and softball teams have been the primary occupants recently as they practice to get ready for their respective spring trips.
The baseball team opens at Florida State on Feb. 15, and the softball team travels to Beaumont, Texas, for a Feb. 22 doubleheader against two Texas teams San Antonio and Lamar.
Coutts and UMaine baseball coach Nick Derba switched their practices in the New Balance Field House on campus, and the baseball team also hit in the Paul Mitchell Batting Pavilion.
“It certainly puts you behind in terms of where you want to be when it comes to putting your schedule together for developing your team. Every day is important to us,” Coutts said. “But I don’t look at it as a big deal. You just adjust.
“It’s harder for baseball because they have a bigger diamond than we do. We can still take infield inside the Field House. It hurts them more than us,” he said.
Derba said having the dome available is a nice luxury, but the baseball team won’t be deterred by this setback.
“It isn’t a major setback,” Derba said. “We will be prepared.
“There won’t be any excuse for us not to be ready to play,” he said.
The facility was built with a gift of $1 million from late UMaine benefactor and local businessman Larry Mahaney.
A storm in 2007 caused it to collapse for the first time, and it took two weeks to get it repaired and up and running again.
The facility is in use 18-19 hours per day this time of year.
The Mahaney Dome has undergone a recent upgrade with new lights and a new furnace.
“It has made a big difference,” Coutts said.