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Earthquake: Diaster Before Dawn : Scoreboard Crashes Onto Seats in Anaheim Stadium : Collapse: The 17.5-ton Sony 'Jumbotron' also destroyed a section of roof as it broke loose and fell to the left-field upper deck.

January 18, 1994|TERRY SPENCER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

ANAHEIM — A massive scoreboard above Anaheim Stadium's left-field stands collapsed during Monday's earthquake, crushing hundreds of seats and strewing metal debris over others.

The Sony "Jumbotron," about 800 square feet in area and weighing 17.5 tons, broke from its moorings atop the stadium's roof and landed in a partially upright position in the upper deck, taking a portion of the roof with it. Late Monday morning, the board was held precariously in place at a 45-degree angle by some of its beams. At least 800 seats were damaged or destroyed.

"We were lucky that we didn't have an event going on here," said city spokesman Brett Colson. The stadium was dark this past weekend but hosted several large events 10 days ago.

Two security guards were in the stadium at 4:31 a.m., but neither was hurt. No other portion of the stadium was damaged. The nearby Anaheim Arena was undamaged by the quake, officials said.

Damage to the stadium was estimated at $3 million to $4 million by city officials, who said the size of the deductible on the city's liability insurance may mean the loss will not be covered.

It also was unclear when repairs could be made, officials said, or if this weekend's motorcycle races at the stadium will be postponed.

"We have contacted our engineering firm to have them do a technical evaluation of the stadium," said Assistant City Manager David Morgan. "Our goal is to be back in business as quickly as possible, but we will not reopen until we have done a complete analysis."

Stadium General Manager Greg Smith said he is "surprised" the scoreboard would collapse in an earthquake that caused only minor damage elsewhere in the immediate area.

The scoreboard was installed in 1988, replacing a smaller, older version. It provides color replays of game action as well as scores. It is in the section of the stadium that was added in 1979 to enlarge the facility for the Rams.

If the structural loss is not covered by insurance, the impact could be catastrophic for the financially strapped city, officials said. The city already is forecasting an $8-million deficit in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The city budget this year is $135 million.

The $125-million stadium's earthquake insurance policy has a 5% deductible, which means it doesn't kick in until damage reaches $6.25 million, said City Risk Manager Thomas Vance. The city does not have a contingency fund for earthquake damage.

"Earthquakes are so unpredictable--another may not occur for one year or 100 years--that it would be difficult in these tough economic times to let the millions of dollars that would be needed for a contingency fund just sit," Vance said.

The scoreboard is also a prime advertising spot, bringing in a large portion of the $2 million in annual revenue paid by billboard advertisers in the stadium, officials said. The revenue is split among the city, an advertising agency, the Rams, Angels and Sony, which paid for the scoreboard.

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