Wednesday, September 19, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 20


Temporary stands at Robertson found unsafe

By Tom Carpenter
The Daily Cougar

In a move that may make UT fans see red, UH President Arthur K. Smith announced Tuesday that the temporary stands erected on the north end of Robertson Stadium won't be used during the Texas-UH football game Saturday because he found them unsafe.

Rich R. Risma/The Daily Cougar

UH President Arthur K. Smith decided Tuesday that the temporary stands erected at Robertson Stadium are not safe enough to be used by fans at Saturday's UH-UT game.

"To me, the safety and security of those attending the game are the paramount considerations," Smith said. "I deeply regret the inconvenience to those who expected to view the
game in person."

On Monday afternoon Smith climbed to the top of the temporary stands, which rest on wooden cribbage instead of concrete or asphalt and are not tied into the main frame of the

"After I inspected the structure yesterday and climbed to its very top row, I asked myself if I would feel comfortable sitting there with my wife and daughter and granddaughter,"
Smith said. "The answer was no."

The 4,150 temporary seats were added to meet a UT request for 10,000 tickets to Saturday's game.

Texas fans with tickets in the temporary stands who make the trip to Houston will be able to watch the game on DiamondVision screens in Hofheinz Pavilion. The game will be
nationally broadcast by ESPN at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Any ticket holders who do not want to watch the game in Hofeinz Pavilion can receive refunds through the UT ticket office. UH will provide the UT Athletics Department a refund for
all 4,150 tickets.

Smith contacted professional engineers from inside and outside the University and asked their advice on how to make the stands safe for 5,000 screaming, foot-stomping Texas

"While some additional modifications have been recommended by engineers as of yesterday, we still lack the overall professional certification of the structural integrity and safety
of the stands that I have been seeking over the past four weeks," Smith said.

The timing of the decision makes it impossible for workmen to do what Smith felt needed to be done to make the stands safe for the fans. The earthen beam the stands sit on has
been in existence for only three years.

"To me that requires a solution I've referred to as 'belts, suspenders and duct tape,'" Smith said. "I want to be absolutely assured beyond a reasonable doubt that the security and
safety of the individuals who sit in those stands is assured."

UH will lose a great deal of money by tearing the stands down and forfeiting the ticket, parking and concession money the Texas fans would have spent at the game.
Compounding the fiscal blow is the cost of erecting and dismantling the temporary stands, estimated at between $100,000 and $200,000.

Bit the financial blow would be miniscule compared to the black eye UH would have received from a prime time national television audience if the temporary stands collapsed
when 5,000 Texas fans began stomping their feet and cheering for their beloved Longhorns.

"I want to go beyond what the contractor says is required," Smith said. "I want to go beyond what a professional engineer and even the minimal code required, and I've been willing
to spend the money to achieve that level of security."

The stands may stand empty during the Texas-UH game because the contractor that erected the stands is busy putting up temporary stands for the Texaco Grand Prix on Oct. 7.

"I've done what I believe is the necessary thing," Smith said.

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