Can It Happen Here? The Strength of Lincoln Pavilion

By Rachel Martin

August 14, 2011 Updated Aug 14, 2011 at 6:18 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Officials at Headwaters Park said Sunday that visitors do not need to worry about Lincoln Pavilion collapsing.

After the stage collapsed Saturday night before the Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, killing five people and injuring over 40, Indiana’s NewsCenter asked the question, “could something like that happen in Fort Wayne?”

Geoff Paddock, Director of Headwaters Park, said visitors shouldn’t worry. Lincoln Pavilion was designed and constructed in 2006, with the elements in mind. The 30 thousand square foot structure hosts numerous events throughout the year including, the Three Rivers Festival and Rib Fest in the summer, and ice skating in the winter.

“Our architects designed something that could withstand a mild hurricane, winds up to 75mph. In fact we’ve seen over the years wind gusts up to 50-60mph and the pavilion has withheld those strong winds.”

Paddock said special fabrics and materials were used for the roof to withstand heavy snow. However, its semi-circular shape allows snow to slide off instead of accumulating on the rooftop.

Paddock said that during events anywhere from five to 10 thousand people come through the Lincoln Pavilion. Officials at Headwaters partner with Fort Wayne Police, emergency responders, and event security to form evacuation plans for every event. They also monitor severe weather very closely. Paddock said safety is a priority.

“We make sure that there is a plan for evacuation. That's actually happened in the past during a major event when folks were actually escorted out of the pavilion and to even some of the parking garages downtown because we had strong storms and winds approaching.”

Lincoln Pavilion is inspected regularly. Paddock said it will be inspected again before ice skating opens in November.

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