Demolition plans about to implode


The Phillies introduced the company that will be responsible for demolishing Veterans Stadium during a closed-door meeting at the team’s executive offices last week.

The team also announced that demolition of the Vet, originally scheduled for February, will be delayed until mid-March, according to a flier circulated in at least one neighborhood bordering the stadium complex.

Sources say the Phillies have hired Demolition Dynamics Inc. to knock down the old arena. The Tennessee-based contractor orchestrated the implosions of Cincinnati’s Cynergy Field, Florida’s Jacksonville Coliseum and Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium.

The Phillies are not ready to go public with their selection. Team spokesperson Larry Shenk declined to comment.

The Associated Press published an article last month about Demolition Dynamics’ implosion of two office buildings in Baton Rouge, La. In the story, the company’s vice president, Steve Pettigrew, talked about the implosion of the Vet, which he said would take an unusually long time to bring down — an estimated 58 seconds.

"No one’s approached a minute," Pettigrew told the reporter. Neighborhood leaders are upset with the Phillies’ reported choice. Stadium Complex Special Services District chairs Judy Cerrone, Barbara Capozzi and Mary Richards attended the three-and-a-half-hour meeting with the Phillies last Tuesday. So did Council President Anna Verna and state Rep. Bill Keller.

The community leaders wanted the Phillies to hire Controlled Demolition Inc., which two years ago imploded the Naval Hospital at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue, and has done several other demolitions in the city.

"I’m angry," said Cerrone, who represents the homes closest to the Vet. "Our input was completely unheard."

She and Capozzi are also upset that the Phillies want to hold a community meeting about the implosion Monday night. Capozzi, who represents Packer Park on the SCSSD, accused the team of scheduling the meeting so close to the holidays so fewer people would attend.

"Less people will show up," Capozzi said, "but the ones that will be there are going to be pretty damn mad."

Both women have refused to host the meeting. Cerrone said she would recommend people stay home.

"The neighborhood is completely overlooked," she said. "It doesn’t matter what we think, what we feel, that it is our homes. All they care about is getting the job done."

Veterans Stadium stands 120 feet tall and is nearly 1,900 feet in circumference. The closest homes sit 150 feet from the arena.

Neighbors are still stinging from the Phillies’ decision in September to hire Chicago-based Brandenburg Industrial Services as the general demolition contractor. They favored another company in that instance, as well, and Cerrone said team officials tried to smooth things over by promising they would hire Controlled Demolition to handle the implosion.

Rep. Keller said the Phillies would have to work to regain the trust of the residents and prove they have hired qualified companies.

"I’m not trying to put any fuel on the fire. The Vet will have to come down eventually. Everybody understands that," Keller said. "My only concern is that when that does happen, the neighborhood is absolutely satisfied that their houses will be taken care of."

Shawn Jalosinski, executive director of the SCSSD, confirmed the Phillies hired a contractor, but would not name Demolition Dynamics specifically. The company would be introduced to the community soon, he said, and would conduct "as many meetings as it takes to get the community comfortable" with its demolition plans.

The SCSSD, meanwhile, is doing its own work to protect the neighborhood. Last month, its directors unanimously voted to hire an independent engineering firm to determine the best method of demolition — either conventional demolition or implosion.

Phillies officials favor implosion, arguing it is more cost-effective and will have less impact on people’s homes.

Crews from the district’s engineer, Schna-bel Engineering, drilled and took soil samples east and west of Broad Street last week and early this week. The samples will be analyzed to determine if the ground can withstand the impact of the implosion.

There will be a community meeting to discuss these results, Jalosinski said, as well as insurance coverage and the dust control plan for the demolition.