Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum

Demoiltion Dynamics & D.H. Griffin implode renowned
entertainment venue

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA- One of northern Florida's most historic concert venues has been demolished by ISEE-member Demolition Dynamics, Franklin, Tenessee, and D.H. Griffin Inc., Greensboro, North Carolina.

Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum played host to dozens of top-name performers during its 43-year existence, from Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Sinatra during the 1960s and 70s to Bruce Springsteen, The Police and U2 during the 80s and 90s. Countless sporting events, circuses and conventions were also held at the 11,000-seat venue.

The Coliseum was such a central part of local community, that in 1995 officials decided to erect the county's new quarter-million dollar Veterans Memorial Wall just beyond the east face of the structure. The beautiful 65 foot-long black granite monument served as an inspiring tribute to more than 1,500 area war heroes, however it eventually posed a unique challenge for demolition teams working to remove the arena. Until this project, no one had ever attempted to implode a full-size arena with such a priceless liability - or for that matter, any liability - located just eight feet away. As Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney stated, "Many of the families of service members consider the memorial sacred ground, and do not want it disturbed."

Enter blaster Steve Pettigrew and Demolition Dynamics, whose unparalleled success with similar sporting arena projects is acknowledged throughout the industry. Pettigrew devised a unique plan that called for the "cutting away" of the Coliseum's two closest exterior wall panels, which would allow them to remain standing during the implosion. This offered the dual advantage of protecting the monument from flying debris while buying a precious seven feet of additional distance to the closest blast point.

The task of separating these two panels, as well as stripping out the entire interior of the structure and preparing it for implosion, fell to the team at D.H. Griffin. Under the direction of Project Manager Frank Riner, workers removed all seating and concession areas, then drilled 325 holes in concrete columns for the placement of explosives. Another Griffin team worked to protect the War Memorial by meticulously encasing the structure in scaffolding and plywood while shrouding individual granite panels in heavy-gauge blue tarpaulin.

The Demolition Dynamics team followed by loading 275 lbs. of conventional nitroglycerin-based explosives into the coliseum's support columns and roof connections. Pettigrew wired each roof support at the three columns to remain standing on his first delay, so that the roof would break free from this section an instant before the entire structure and its 100 foot-tall dome began to collapse. A total of 97 additional delays were then used around the perimeter of the building to ensure a gradual and complete collapse.

When the dust cleared, community officials were relieved to find the War Memorial in perfect condition, with not so much as a scratch. Ground vibration and airblast levels recorded by ISEE-members CDB Inc., Jacksonville, Florida and Protec Documentation Services, Mt. Laurel, New Jersey were well within established limits.

Once all of the debris is removed and the site restored to grade, the Memorial will be surrounded by a two-acre walking park.

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