Barta on Delay

HI.com Publisher
Posted Sep 3, 2011


Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta met with the media after his football team's 34-7 win against Tennessee Tech to talk about the weather delay.

Gary Barta: I'll make a couple comments, then be happy to answer any questions.

First and foremost, everywhere I've been over the past 25 years, you prepare before. Have not had to execute yet. There was a significant storm heading right towards the stadium. First and foremost is the safety of the student-athletes and the fans. We made the decision to pull the teams off the field. We also had to evacuate the stadium.

Once that occurs, there's a rule that indicates 30 minutes have to go by since the last lightning strike before you can reconvene. We were monitoring that with the National Weather Service, my senior staff, university police. It was a team effort. We made the decision. Fortunately we were able to finish the game and everybody was safe.

Any questions?

Q. Was there a point when you discussed not finishing the game?

GARY BARTA: There's a couple of principles you operate by. The safety of the competitors is first and foremost, and the fans. Secondly, you do everything possible to play the game. The only thing that would have stopped us from finishing the game today was darkness. You always attempt to finish the game.

Q. (No microphone.)

GARY BARTA: I want to say in the six seasons that I've been here, we've had conversations leading into Thursday, Friday, Saturday where we just put everybody on alert and remind ourselves what the protocol is if we get to this point.

We had those discussions last night as well as this morning just in preparation. What happened was, there was a band of lightning that was very condensed, very significant. I think some of you might have seen it on the radar. Obviously we have somebody monitoring radar, but we work with the National Weather Service.

When it was apparent that within 10 or 20 miles of the stadium there was a direct lightning pattern coming towards the stadium, that's when we made the decision.

Q. Clearing out 70,000, to your knowledge, did things move smoothly?

GARY BARTA: I think there were a couple things in our favor in this case. Because of where we were in the point of the game in terms of the score, where that was, and because the weather after halftime, several thousands of people had left the stadium, I think it allowed for this kind of procedure to go a little bit more smoothly.

For future reference, one of the things we do as a matter of normal business, we can put approximately 40,000 people underneath the stadium in the concourses, then the rest of the fans would be able to evacuate to the rec building or the hospital. Those are the most nearby opportunities for fans to take cover.

Hopefully something we'll never have to go through again.

Q. Does this heighten the potential need for lights?

GARY BARTA: I think if this would have been a late afternoon game, it would have made the discussion whether or not we would be able to finish the game a little bit more critical. When we play late afternoon games most of the time in preparation we bring in lights.

I don't think this changes the discussion. I think certainly it adds to the equation of whether or not we had lights to put in.


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