As the ´23 fall sports season gets underway, there has been a seeming throughline of a story connecting otherwise disparate events in cities thousands of miles apart, and it’s not a remarkable feat of athleticism or a new attendance record set. Sadly, some billion-dollar stadium roof systems are failing.
It’s the bane of every building owner and the lifeblood that keeps roofing contractors busy year-round, but either way, it’s been a slow drip of a story so far, and it’s garnering headlines that should be focused on touchdowns or grand slams.
The spate of leaks started the first Saturday in September, which heralded the opening of the 2023-24 college football season. The Rebels of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which enjoy a cush new facility in Allegiant Stadium, a nearly $2 billion facility completed in 2020 for that rolling stone of an NFL team — the Raiders — was briefly delayed late in the first half as water leaked onto the field. After a second consecutive day of heavy rains, the Rebels were driving down the field in the closing minutes of the second quarter when game officials saw water beginning to appear near the field, according to the Las Vegas Journal-Review.
The heavy rain could be heard reverberating throughout the stadium even before the opening drive, reports noted, and water penetrating various breaches. Still, once it affected conditions closer to play, officials decided to step in, calling for a delay.
Reminder: the rain delay was called in an indoor facility. Video below, captured by a fan on Reddit, makes it pretty clear the leaking was more than a slow drip.
Once the weather — indoors and out — cleared, the Rebels went on to route the Bryant University Bulldogs 44-14 and are now 2-1 in the Mountain West.
Two weeks later, as the Milwaukee Brewers hosted the Washington Nationals at American Family Field in Milwaukee on September 16, Mother Nature again let it be known her prerogative trumped schedules as images of water streamed through the closed roof near the visitor bullpen and right field bleachers.
American Family Field is a retractable roof stadium that opened in 2001 and features North America's only fan-shaped convertible roof, which can reportedly open and close in less than 10 minutes. Large panes of glass allow natural grass to grow, augmented with heat lamp structures wheeled out across the field during the off-season.
If there was a question about it, the roof was closed during the rainstorm.
The Brewers’ lease expires in 2030, and there have been calls for the stadium district, which owns the ballpark, to cover repairs, but reports indicate the money isn’t there. According to Fox Sports, a Brewers-commissioned study found the work will cost $428 million, including nearly $37 million for the roof; the study noted rusting metal under the roof.
Calls by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) to tap into the state’s budget surplus to fund repairs were quickly shot down by Republican lawmakers who have a supermajority in both chambers of the state legislature. In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, WISN-12 News Reporter Hannah Hilyard shared a video of rain falling onto the right field bleacher seats and near the Brewers' dugout.
In addition to being one of the hottest years on record, 2023 is shaping up to be one of the wettest for several regions of the country, including much of the West, eastern Great Lakes and Northeast, and in parts of the northern Plains, Ohio Valley and Southeast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Precipitation records have been set in New Hampshire, Vermont and six other states.
The UN's World Meteorological Organization declared El Niño, a climate pattern that occurs on average every two to seven years and usually lasts between nine to 12 months, was already underway in July and is expected to continue through the 2023-2024 winter. El Niño can bring extreme temperatures, floods, and heat waves worldwide.
A total of $15 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters have been confirmed this year through the end of July — the most events since 1980 for the first six months of a calendar year.