- Chris Sprow, ESPN Insider
- 0 Shares
When Controlled Demolition Inc. brought down the Kingdome, Stacey Loizeaux was there. She pushed the button for her first demolition (a bridge in Ohio) at age 3, and supervised her first demolition (a condemned building in earthquake-ravaged Mexico City) at age 15. So she knows the biz. She also understands sentiment.
"It doesn't matter what the building is," says Loizeaux. "It holds intense value for someone, whether it's your favorite stadium or it's the Holiday Inn in downtown Hartford. Hey, some people got married there."
But she can assure you, when her company assessed the wreckage of the Kingdome—wreckage created by an extremely precise blast that involved drilling 5,905 holes for CDI's explosive, 21.6 miles of detonating cord and over 4,700 lb. of explosives—nowhere in the wreckage would you find Jay Buhner's hat, Ken Griffey Jr's old jersey, Brian Bosworth's busted helmet or Ken Phelps' mustache trimmer.
"We have a reverence for the structure, but by the time we get there, it's a shell," said Loizeaux.
The demolition process is, at its heart, a brilliant feat of engineering. For the Kingdome, the free-fall of the 25,000-ton concrete dome alone would have created over 9 billion foot-pounds of energy, sufficient to do widespread damage to the water table below. So to minimize damage, CDI designed a program that would detonate small explosives charges to soften the roof structure so it would crush on impact (consuming energy) rather than letting it fall to the ground intact. Bottom line to the collector: it's less romantic (think of the falling resorts in Casino), and more about just getting it done.
When demolition experts show up to finally take on a massive structure, it's been gutted. "We're a hired gun at that point," said Loizeaux.
Schneider Industries is a company that oversees the sale of the innards of stadiums set to crumble at the hands of profesionals. Tiger Stadium, a structure abandoned in 1999 but through civic neglect or general apathy still stands, rotting away, waiting for demolition, is one. Schneider ran an online auction of more than 700 artifacts from the historic ballpark, which put $192,729 back in the city's coffers.
The top item? A piece of the fence from around the rooftop transformer hit by Reggie Jackson's home run in the 1971 All-Star Game. With a photo of the stadium and a Reggie Jackson baseball card, the package fetched $4,025.
Pieces like this are all that's left of structures like the old Polo Ground or Chicago Stadium. They eventually filter to places like this, where a structural piece of history becomes readily attainable, assuming your room can handle some wooden or plastic accents. A seat in the Polo Grounds, still available? Hey—there were a lot of seats.
It's long been known in New York that Yankee Stadium will evenutally come down. Many think of The Stadium as a baseball cathedral, holy ground, an untouchable relic. It's beautiful, it's sacred — and it has to come down. (The new stadium rising next door is set to be ready for opening day 2009.) Some will call it a crime, just as they would regarding Texas Stadium, Tiger Stadium or Busch Stadium. The same was said of Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds or Forbes Field. Every stadium has its fate.The artifacts, at least, live on.
To demolition experts like the Loizeaux family, those artifacts are all as distant as they are to the common fan. If she wanted a truly valuable slice of the Kingdome, Stacey Loizeaux would have to bid for it with the rest of us. By the time a company like CDI arrives to make the land flat once more—a suitable place to add restaurants for fans to congregate, or park their cars before the game at the new stadium across the street—the monetary value wrapped in stadium artifacts has all been distributed back into the community of fans and collectors.
At that point, something remains, but mostly a memory. Like a first dance in the dimly lit ballroom of a Hartford Holiday Inn.
With 32 points, Damian Lillard was the star in a comeback victory over Memphis that kept Portland's season alive.
The Baltimore Orioles' home game against the Chicago White Sox was postponed Monday night because of safety concerns after riots broke out near Camden Yards following the funeral of Freddie Gray.
Deron Williams rebounded from two dismal games with 35 points, and the Brooklyn Nets pulled out a 120-115 overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night, tying the series at two apiece.
Former Missouri Tigers defensive end/outside linebacker Shane Ray, a projected early-round pick in the NFL draft, was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of marijuana early Monday.
Rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the go-ahead goal and Braden Holtby only needed to make 10 saves, lifting the Capitals past the Islanders 2-1 in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has turned himself in to police after a hit-and-run incident he was allegedly involved in Sunday morning in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner responded harshly to Max Scherzer's assertion that National League pitchers should not have to hit and that the league should adopt the DH.
The anticipated Josh Hamilton trade from the Los Angeles Angels to the Texas Rangers was made official Monday.
Jon Gruden thinks Marcus Mariota should be No. 1 on Mel Kiper's board, Bud Dupree is a top-10 player and Amari Cooper is a lot like Tim Brown. Here are his 15 favorite 2015 draft prospects.
Brandon Ingram, the nation's top uncommitted player, has announced he will attend Duke next year.
Michael Carter-Williams outplayed Derrick Rose decisively on Monday, part of a Bucks backcourt that finally stood up to its Bulls counterparts.
Men's basketball is likely heading toward reducing its shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds, the chair of the NCAA rules committee told ESPN.com on Monday.
Greivis Vasquez was weary of Paul Pierce's trash talk at the beginning of the series vs. the Wizards but after being swept, he says a talker like Pierce is exactly what the Raptors need.
When given the opportunity to succumb to their grisly Game 7 history, the Capitals stuck to their game plan and finished off the Islanders.
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert denounced the leaking of information about draft-eligible players and all but said the practice of doing so to disguise teams' draft intentions needs to stop.
Former FSU defensive back P.J. Williams, a projected early-round pick in the NFL draft, will not face DUI charges, his attorney told ESPN.com.
The NBA will announce Monday that Stance will be the official sock of the league and that all players will wear their product.
The Redskins will exercise their fifth-year option on Robert Griffin III's contract, a move that will keep the star quarterback under Washington's contractual control through the 2016 season.
Michigan freshman Austin Hatch, whose story of survival after two plane crashes has served as an inspiration to others, will alter his status with the basketball team.
Dogged by criticism throughout the season, Deron Williams responded in a big way to lift the Nets to a series tie.
The All England Club has banned fans from using selfie sticks at Wimbledon, calling them a "nuisance.''
One week after not attending voluntary workouts, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown showed up Monday to join his teammates.
Our ESPN NFL Nation reporters played general manager for the teams they cover and executed a first-round mock draft. Here are the results.
The hype around the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao showdown on May 2 is at a fever pitch. Has any other fight come close? Nigel Collins offers his all-time list.