DETROIT -- Two panels on the facing of the main press box at Tiger Stadium were ripped away during a late-afternoon thunderstorm Friday, delaying the start of Detroit's game against Boston for 47 minutes
No one was injured when the aluminum-covered plywood panels, each approximately 20 square yards, landed in unoccupied seating areas below the press box.
The storm, carrying winds gusting up to 66 mph, came through about 4:15 p.m. EDT, 45 minutes before the gates were scheduled to open for the 7:05 p.m. game.
Other panels that were loosened during the storm were roped and bolted to prevent them from falling. Tigers president John McHale said a crane would be brought in to remove those panels after the stadium was cleared following the game.
"We have a very experienced stadium staff and one of our crowd managers is a building inspector and he was the guy we were leaning on public safety-wise," McHale said. "They feel there's more than adequate support of the panels with the rope fix."
The accident exposed steel along the third deck. The press box at Tiger Stadium is one of the highest in the majors.
The seating areas below the damage were sealed off by police tape, and persons ticketed to sit there were moved to other areas.
"Nothing leads me to believe anything else will happen, but we're not going to take that chance," executive director of stadium operations Tom Folk said.
Tigers spokesman Tyler Barnes said approximately 35,000 fans were expected Friday night. There was a postgame fireworks display scheduled, and Friday was also the first game of a weekend-long celebration of the Tigers' 1984 World Series championship team.
This is the final scheduled season for Tiger Stadium, which was built in 1912. The Tigers are slated to move next year to Comerica Park, currently under construction about a mile east of the old ballpark.
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