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Scioto Downs grandstand closed due to structural issues, safety concerns

The grandstand will be closed until repairs can be made.
Credit: Columbus Department of Building and Zoning Services via Burgess & Niple
Looking northeast at east edge beam in shell 4.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The grandstand at Scioto Downs is closed because the structure's deteriorating condition has led to safety concerns, according to the City of Columbus Department of Building and Zoning Services.

The city's 311 center received a call in July from someone concerned about the grandstand's condition.

The city said Scioto Downs hired Burgess and Niple, Inc. (B&N), an engineering firm, to review the structure and provide a report.

B&N inspected the roof of the grandstand on Aug. 3 and 4.

After the report was completed, horse racing was canceled at Scioto Downs Wednesday and Thursday but has since started back up for the rest of the season, according to Katie Miller, who is a spokesperson for Caesars Entertainment, which owns Scioto Downs.

The firm had previously inspected the structure in 2017 and it was determined netting had to be installed to catch any potential falling pieces of debris.

In its 2021 report, B&N noted, "The condition of the roof has deteriorated significantly since the previous inspection."

Engineers looked at the roof, which is made up of six concrete shells with each shell supported by a main column and a smaller column for stability.

The roof also has reinforced beams on the perimeter.

B&N found "severely deteriorated" concrete in the edge beams and the "concrete below the reinforcing steel is of questionable integrity."

Engineers also noted large cracks in some areas and several previous repairs have failed.

Photos of the condition of the grandstand, as seen in the report sent to the city by B&N, are below:

The report also noted more deteriorated concrete in the rib beams of the shells.

On the top side of the roof, engineers found more cracks up to 1-inch wide and 2-inches deep. Cracks up to 10 feet long were also seen.

Engineers also found part of the roof that is in danger of falling on a penthouse below the roof and an immediate fix was recommended.

"Concrete debris from the deteriorated edge beam has collected at numerous locations on the roof ledge outside the edge beam on the west side of the roof. These loose pieces of concrete could fall onto the ground and buildings below," the report said.

A waterproofing membrane on part of the roof was found to be peeling and bubbling.

The netting was found to not always be fully attached and has started to sag in some places and B&N said the netting system needs improvement.

B&N also noted falling concrete remains a concern.

"As a result of our inspection, we are recommending that the grandstand be taken out of service until the roof is removed or supplemental supports are installed to ensure its stability," B&N wrote in its 2021 report.

The Department of Building and Zoning Services said it will be issuing an unsafe order, leading to the closure of the grandstand.

The department said it is waiting for Scioto Downs and B&N to provide a plan for the repairs.

Miller told 10TV there are safe areas for fans to watch the horse races and it is putting the safety of fans first. The areas where it is not safe are still closed.