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At Kingdome, 10,000 tiles may need fixing American League


SEATTLE -- Engineers inspecting the Kingdome say about 10,000 of the domed stadium's 40,000 acoustical ceiling tiles may have problems.

They have also found a gap between about 800 to 2,000 of the tiles and the ceiling, indicating that those tiles are not as secure as they should be, said Frank Abe, spokesman for King County Executive Gary Locke.

But Abe wasn't willing to speculate on the significance of those findings late yesterday.

Nor are county officials saying what caused four of the panels to drop into the stands Tuesday or how the problem should be fixed.

And there is still no word on when the Kingdome can open again.

Instead, Abe said the county hopes to release more conclusive findings today.

"There are about 25 percent of the tiles that we are concerned about," he said. "We're looking at many possible solutions but were not prepared to discuss them."

Yesterday, engineers and crews continued to inspect and take samples of the tiles for testing, bringing in a crane capable of extending 327 feet to come face-to-face with the problem. The crane is believed to be the largest fully hydraulic crane west of the Mississippi.

Abe said results from chemical tests on one of the failed panels confirmed the load test showing 25 percent to 50 percent of its strength had been lost.

Abe said crews would work into the night to remove 10 to 12 more of the 32-inch-by-48-inch tiles for testing.

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