The Pontiac Silverdome roof collapsed yesterday under the weight of snow accumulated during an overnight storm, forcing stadium employes and three Detroit Lions football players to run for cover, officials of the suburban Detroit stadium said.
There were no reported injuries, although running back James Jones and quarterbacks Gary Danielson and Eric Hipple, who were practicing on the playing area when the collapse occurred at 11:40 a.m., had to scurry to safety.
"It looked just like an avalanche," Danielson said. "It looked like somebody threw hand grenades in there. All we did was start pointing. Eric didn't know what was happening. Then it started coming down all at once, and we ran like hell to the tunnel."
Three Detroit Pistons NBA games have been rescheduled because of the collapse. Last night's game against Milwaukee has been postponed to April 7 and games against New York on Wednesday and Utah on Thursday will be shifted to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
Pistons spokesman Matt Dobek said that wet snow that accumulated overnight tore at least seven holes in the fiberglass-and-Teflon roof, warping the wooden basketball floor and sending concrete from the upper deck smashing into several plastic seats. The roof, which is supported by air, was also deflated.
It was the second time the roof of the 10-year-old, $55.7-million stadium had collapsed. The first was in a thunderstorm in August 1976.