Report: Cowboys facility should have survived wind



Posted on October 7, 2009 at 2:53 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 6:13 PM

A government report outlined the likely sequence of the collapse at the Cowboys practice facility.

Federal Report

Gary Reaves reports

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IRVING - The collapse of the Dallas Cowboys practice facility during a storm last May never should have happened.

A new federal report says the bubble should have been able to withstand the 55 to 65 mph winds that came through North Texas that day.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology said the fabric and steel practice facility was supposed to be designed to weather a much more powerful storm. But, the report says the building didn't come close to that.

Designers promised the structure, which was a steel frame with a fabric covering, met the legal requirements to withstand winds of 90 mph, but it only took 60 mph winds to collapse it.

Now, the new federal government study confirms the suspicions of attorney Frank Branson. He represents Cowboys scout Rich Behm, who was left paralyzed by the collapse.

"This was a dramatically under-designed building as we suspected for a long time," Branson said. "Any big wind would make it fold like a $2 suitcase."

The study was done by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its draft report raises serious questions, like:

??Was the fabric roof adequate to hold?

??Was the structure itself strong enough?

Also under scrutiny was whether the doors need to be redesigned so wind blowing in doesn't help rip the structure apart. The report recommended that places like Texas A&M, which have similar structures, test them for safety.

A&M said it has made major changes. Its football building has tested safe for 90 mph winds. The track facility will soon be tested.

Meanwhile, Branson said builders should have known in the case of the Cowboys structure collapse.

"Summit had been put on notice way before May 2009," he said. "They had design flaws, major design flaws, that created a potential hazard for anyone in the building on a bad weather day."

Branson said the trial for the case is still 18 months away.