Raider Dome renewal taking steps forward
by RICHARD ROBERTS Banner Sports Editor
May 29, 2014 | 1079 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Raider Dome

PALLETS OF LIGHTS removed from the ceiling of the Raider Dome and a coating of dust are all that are left inside the structure currently in the early stages of demolition. The Dome is scheduled to be dismantled by the end of July. Banner photo, RICHARD ROBERTS
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Although it looks the same on the outside — for now anyway — the Raider Dome, which has served as home court for Cleveland High School basketball since 1967, is undergoing a major transformation on the inside leading to the eventual demolition and reconstruction of a new home for the Blue Raiders and Lady Raiders.

Bleachers have been removed, a coating of dust covers the hardwood as workers busily attend to the details of removing vital systems in preparation for the building’s takedown.

“Right now we are preparing it for ultimate demolition. We are having to move the water lines and move the hot water system that feeds half of the school on the east end of the school. All that will have to be done before anything else can begin,” said Cleveland City Schools maintenance and transportation supervisor Hal Taylor. “That will take the next couple of weeks, at least, to get done.”

The rollaway bleachers that were witness to legendary battles on the basketball court and wrestling mats as well as countless other activities throughout its storied history have been removed and retrofitted to replace the dilapidated wooden bleachers in the CHS volleyball gym, a move Taylor said increased the capacity of the facility and saved the school system thousands of dollars.

“The old wooden bleachers were almost obsolete when they were installed,” said Taylor. “When we sought to install new seats we found out the price tag would be $60,000 to $70,000. The retrofit cost around $16,000. It was a no-brainer. Plus, we still have a little bit of Raider Dome history still in the school.”

No plans are in the works to save a portion of the Dome floor which will be turned over to the contractor.

Removal of the building is set to be concluded by the end of July. A second contractor will be hired to build the new and improved version of the Raider Dome which is scheduled to be ready to go by fall 2016.

“The contractor is under deadline to have it (deconstruction) substantially finished by July 25. That is his deadline. Outside of that, it’s pretty much up to him how he gets it handled,” said Taylor. “They are doing it in two phases. There will be another bid for construction,”

When the water system removal is completed, the dome itself will be removed, the outer walls will come down and work will begin on removal of the domeless Raider Dome basement which housed dressing rooms, class rooms and a fitness center.

There will be no implosion to take the iconic structure down, according to Taylor. Instead, the former home of the Blue Raiders and Lady Raiders will come down more or less bolt by bolt — the same way it was constructed some 47 years ago

“They will start coming off with the roof first and then take off the walls then work into the basement. (The removal of the roof) is still to be determined by engineers and the contractor,” he explained. “I think they are going to try to take it off a piece at a time. There won’t be any type of implosion. It will be a deconstruction more than any kind of major wrecking ball. It will come down in sections with a crane, most likely. We are just doing it as efficiently and as quickly with safety in mind as possible.”

Taylor said the second contractor should be chosen by the end of August.