Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Twa Dome Awaits OK for Fans, Football

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Twa Dome Awaits OK for Fans, Football

Article excerpt

Eight more days.

Barring an upset, the Trans World Dome will be football- and fan-ready for the Rams' game Nov. 12 against the Carolina Panthers.

That was the word Friday from Lawrence Akley, project manager for the Stadium Authority. For months, Akley had been reluctant to guarantee the stadium's opening.

But on Friday, Akley was guardedly optimistic - almost upbeat. The city is putting the $280 million stadium through a battery of inspections.

"We'll be doing whatever it takes . . . to have a football game there," said Akley. "There's always circumstances beyond our control."

Like a flood in November.

"I have no doubts that there will be a game," he added.

Toward that end, officials canceled public tours and a "Meet Your Seat" day for fans on Sunday at the 66,000-seat stadium. The latter event had been postponed from October by the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission so it wouldn't interrupt the stadium's construction schedule.

"We didn't want to do anything that would impede us," Akley said.

Bob Wallace, the Rams' vice president for administration, said the club expected to play the Panthers, an NFL expansion team, in the Trans World Dome.

"Can we play a game there? Yes," Wallace said. "Will it be perfect? No."

The stadium won't be completely finished until late December. But to ensure that it will be safe for fans, it's getting the once-over from city inspectors for several departments: fire, building, mechanical, plumbing, elevator, electrical and health.

On Thursday, fire inspectors conducted a "smoke test." Smoke bombs were set off at various locations, and the ventilation system was turned on to expel the haze from the building and lessen the hazard in an evacuation.

"We got an A," Akley said.

Inspectors also tested the emergency lighting system. The regular lighting system was turned off, and the emergency lights were set to come on within 18 seconds to guide fans to exits.

"There were a couple of areas that did not respond like they should have," Akley said. …

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