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A dynamite drumroll and Three Rivers Stadium bows out

Monday, February 12, 2001

By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Sixteen blasts of dynamite, a cloud of dust, and a hearty cry of "So long, Three Rivers Stadium!"

Three Rivers Stadium disappears in a doughnut of dust as the lower deck implodes inward and the upper deck implodes straight down. This view is from the Spirit of Goodyear Blimp. (Darrell Sapp, Post-Gazette)

A crowd estimated at 20,000 in Point State Park, 3,000 to 4,000 on Mount Washington and untold others in Downtown skyscrapers and elsewhere endured the 21-degree temperature to gape in awe and bid adieu to the concrete bowl that had witnessed so many highs and lows in Pittsburgh sports since opening in July 1970.

At 7:58 a.m. Elizabeth King of Mount Washington and her 16-year-old son, Joseph, nervously approached a table in a parking lot about 100 yards from the doomed stadium. On the table was an old-fashioned dynamite plunger.

"Ten-nine-eight-seven...," chanted the surrounding crowd.

Mother and son, both with hands on the ceremonial plunger, pushed it down at 7:59 a.m. At the same time and at a different location, just north of the new Steelers stadium, master blaster Mark Loizeaux of Controlled Demolition Inc. pressed a small button, which was hooked up to the real juice.

Power surged through detonating cord connected to more than 4,800 pounds of dynamite in 2,500 spots in gutted-out Three Rivers Stadium.

Implosion Info

View videoclips of the implosion and the aftermath from this morning's event. Best viewed with Windows Media Player or QuickTime.

Check today's Photo Journal for pictures taken before, during and after the detonation.

Or take a look at a four-image series (55KB) by PG photographer John Beale showing the stadium going, going, going, gone.

Debris to be cleared fast for roads, parking

How Pittsburgh watched Three Rivers make its exit

State cites restaurants for early start

Chuck Finder
The Big Picture
Blowing the implosion out of proportion

Ron Cook
Stadium gone; memories stay

Youths get trapped at vantage point for implosion


POW-POW-POW-POW! Sixteen explosions rang out. For two seconds, nothing happened.

Then the concrete ring came crashing down, sending a huge dust cloud toward Point State Park.

"My heart was racing, but it was fun," said Joseph King. "After the dust clears, Three Rivers will be nothing but a memory."

"I'm still shaking," said a smiling Elizabeth, who'd won a raffle to push the plunger. "You look over there and it's gone -- just amazing."

"It's a remarkable day, in many ways bittersweet," said Mayor Tom Murphy.

Loizeaux, Controlled Demolition president, and his brother, Vice President Doug Loizeaux, look for a "clean" implosion when they "drop" a building. They got what they were looking for yesterday. Doug pronounced it "perfect."

His biggest concern was damage to the new Steelers stadium, 80 feet from Three Rivers at its closest point. But the old stadium dropped almost straight down. Debris got no closer than about 40 feet to the new stadium, Doug Loizeaux said.

State transportation officials said there was no damage to the Fort Duquesne Bridge or its ramps, which reopened in just 15 minutes.

Seismographs recorded a little ground vibration, but not enough to crack windows in nearby buildings. The dust cloud floated south, over Point State Park, and dissipated in about 10 minutes.

"Looks like I cheated death once again," quipped Doug Loizeaux, whose firm has imploded hundreds of buildings, including several in Pittsburgh and the Seattle Kingdome last year.

Now begins the less glamorous -- but just as crucial -- task of clearing away the tons of concrete and steel to make way for a new system of roadways and parking lots.

A few hours after the blast, Bianchi Trison Corp., the general demolition contractor, began cutting up steel girders from Three Rivers' upper level, which now rests atop a pile of crushed concrete.

About 6,000 tons of structural steel, plus another 4,000 tons of steel reinforcing bars, are in the rubble, said Sports & Exhibition Authority spokesman Greg Yesko.

There also are 160,000 to180,000 tons of concrete to be cleared. Bianchi Trison will take most of it to two landfills in Ohio, and use some of the rest as fill for temporary parking between the two new stadiums and to level low areas along the riverbank as Roberto Clemente Memorial Park is expanded.

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