Adios, Sombrero

By Brent Blanchard

(This article originally appeared at the 26th Annual ISEE Conference on Blasting and Explosives in Nashville, Tennessee and published in The Journal of Explosives Engineering)

TAMPA, FLORIDA - Blasters are often asked to 'remove the old to make way for the new'. Sometimes, however, the old can't give way until the new is up and operating. Such was the case recently in Tampa, Florida, when the final section of Tampa Stadium bowed in the presence of its successor.

Built in 1967, The Big Sombrero (as locals affectionately nicknamed it) was best known as the home of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and for being one of the few stadiums in America capable of holding over 100,000 spectators. Over the years, the venue also hosted two Super Bowls among various other sporting and recreational events.

In 1997, work was completed on the new $350 million dollar Raymond James Stadium located next door, and shortly thereafter ISEE member Engineered Demolition, Inc. was contracted to fell the 225-foot tall press-box and luxury-suite sections of the old venue. Blaster Eric Kelly used 220 pounds of ICI Magnum 75 - initiated by non-electric Exel LP detonators - to cause the progressive failure of fourteen heavily reinforced concrete columns, and the gangly structure tumbled to the ground in approximately 18 seconds.

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