Hampshire Dome rebuild planned

Hampshire Hills owner hopes to open again in July

Staff file photo by Don Himsel A crew was removing snow at the Hampshire Dome when it ripped and collapsed during the snowstorm in March.

MILFORD – The owner of Hampshire Hills Athletic Club plans to construct a new dome on the site.

The Hampshire Dome collapsed after a storm earlier this month. An accumulation of snow and ice, blown by wind, stressed the structure and caused a 30-foot tear. A crew moving snow on March 15 was able to clear away from the dome before it depressurized, a company representative said.

Rick Holder, owner of Hampshire Hills, which operates the Hampshire Dome next to the athletic facility, said experts who visited the site since the collapse said the fabric could be repaired. However, he said he didn’t want to take any chances.

“When they put it back together, we would need to have a warranty,” he said. “They really couldn’t give us one. We decided the best course of action was to go with a completely new dome.”

The inflatable dome was made of Dacron with a polyvinyl coating. It had a Tedlar coating that gave it added resilience to the elements.

“You could patch the dome back together again,” Holder said. “That might be fine for years. However, there may be some stressors in certain areas; stressed fabric that you definitely could not count on.

The structure created a 94,000-square-foot space for athletic and other events. It was built in 2005 and opened the next year.

“We believe we’ll be back in business in late June or early July,” Holder said Monday, March 27.

Some of the equipment used to keep the dome inflated could be salvaged, he said, because it was situated away from the structure. He said underground tunnels were built that brought fresh and heated air into the structure.

“None of that was injured at all,” Holder said.

Holder said he has had to postpone three large events on top of the regularly scheduled smaller events that are the “bulk of the business” at the dome.

“Once we have all of the equipment it takes to reinstall, and have all the other equipment on campus and all the new materials, it will take about two and a half to three weeks,” he said.

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-1249 or dhimsel@cabomet.com.