And the walls came tumbling down

Sunday’s bike ride included witnessing a bit of Fort Worth history: the implosion of the west grandstand of Amon G. Carter Stadium on the campus of Texas Christian University.

Artist's rendering of the renovated and expanded Amon G. Carter Stadium

The stadium, which opened in 1930, was being partially demolished as part of the $105 million renovation and expansion set to completed in 2012. The undefeated TCU Horned Frogs, ranked No. 3 in the BCS standings, later the same day accepted an invitation to play in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin. During the 2011 season, the Frogs will continue to play in the half-renovated stadium.
I couldn’t persuade my fellow riders, neighbors with whom I ride regularly on Sundays, to haul themselves out of bed early enough to bicycle over to TCU on a frigid morning to be on hand for the implosion, scheduled to take place between 8 and 8:30 a.m. So I rode over to the campus by myself.
On Stadium Drive, behind the barricades restricting access to the implosion site, I found an unobstructed view of the west grandstand, emblazoned with the gigantic letters TCU. There I met my wife, Mary Ellen, who had driven to nearby University Christian Church, where she was to volunteer that morning for the charity Heifer International. We shivered together as we waited for the big show.

Precisely at 8:15 a.m., the Frog Horn blared — announcing that the implosion would begin in five minutes. At 8:19, the horn blared again, indicating that the blasts would start in 1 minute. The Frog Horn, a train horn mounted on a trailer fashioned to look like a purple Horned Frog, was donated by Fort Worth-based BNSF Railway, and is normally used to announce scores in TCU football games.
At 8:20, like a muffled drum roll, explosives began detonating in quick succession, undermining the weight-bearing concrete piers that supported the two-tiered grandstand. And then, in slow motion, beginning on the north end, the whole structure began tumbling down into a cloud of dust and a huge pile of rubble.
It was spectacular — and worth getting up for on a cold morning.
As the crowd dispersed, many of the spectators talking of their memories of the 80-year-old old stadium, I rode back home, had a cup of coffee and then rode over to a neigbor’s house for our regular ride at 10 a.m.
As part of our route, we cruised over to the TCU campus to see what the explosives had wrought. The dust cloud had dispersed on a clear brisk morning, and the upper deck of west grandstand — much of it still intact — lay like a huge concrete pancake atop the rubble.
As we were viewing the wreckage, another gawker, a fellow cyclist, asked if she could take photos of us. She did. And she promised to join us in our Sunday rides.
Here’s one of her photos:

Mistletoe Heights neighborhood riders. From left: Barry Shlachter, Jim Peipert, Steve McReynolds, Erik Hansen, Phil Love, Kathy McReynolds, Ralph Watterson and Jeff Gibbons. The rubble of the west grandstand is in the background.


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Filed under Cool stuff, History, Texana, Urban cycling

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