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Zesiger Center Multi-Activity Court Floods

Soccer Ball Hits Sprinkler, Murky Water Falls on Court

By Tom Kilpatrick


The Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center flooded Friday, requiring an intense cleanup effort that involved approximately thirty staff members and lasted several hours.

“A soccer ball hit the protective cage of a sprinkler head with such force that it activated a single sprinkler head,” inside the Multi-Activity Court, or MAC, said Assistant Department Head for Facilities and Operations Daniel Martin.

Phillip M. Kelleher ’04 made the ill-fated kick while playing a game with some friends. “We were playing soccer and I kicked the ball,” probably hitting a pipe, he said.

What happened next is not certain, but a large amount of dark, foul-smelling water soon filled the MAC playing area, reaching a depth of several inches, said Zesiger Center employee Chuck Rainey. “All I know is that we had a main pipe burst on the MAC court,” he said.

Kelleher said that his group filled out a report for Zesiger managers detailing the event.

Rainey did not know whether the burst pipe was part of the sprinkler system, but the corroded quality of the water suggests that it had been sitting in the building’s lines for some time.

The MAC is about the size of a basketball court, but is walled in by white hockey-style boards. Dirty water filled the floor area and spilled out into the hallway, leaving stains on the wallboards.

“We had a little shock-pad and what is called a spider court on top,” Martin said. Most of the spider court surface, which comes apart in pieces, was saved by Zesiger staff, who responded quickly after alarms sounded. The shockpad, used for cushioning the court, was ruined by the water.

Pieces of the floor’s surface can be seen stacked next to the MAC, and the MAC floor is currently stripped down to the concrete base.

Zesiger open, repair time unknown

The Zesiger Center opened on time Saturday morning and Martin was pleased with the cleanup effort of the staff, who made the most of a bad situation, he said. The MAC remained closed.

Martin was not certain how long repairs would take. “There are a couple different scenarios,” Martin said. Rainey estimated the repair time at “hopefully a few days.”

Several repairs are required. Cleaning was required over the weekend to remove the water stains left along the floors and walls. An electrical socket on the floor will be replaced for safe measure, and netting may be installed beneath the ceiling to protect the fire sprinklers and lights above the MAC, Martin said.

It is unclear who will bear responsibility for the repair costs of the MAC playing surface. The soccer game taking place at the time of the incident was during drop-in hours, and within the rules of MAC.

“We’re just assessing the damage and looking for insurance potentially to pay for it,” Martin said.

The MAC was designed primarily for inline hockey, basketball, and indoor soccer. It is a recreational facility, so no varsity teams will be affected by its repairs.