When the Dallas Cowboys hired Summit Structures LLC based in Allentown, Pa. to build their now-ruined practice facility, they knew a similar structure built by the company for the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority had previously collapsed in a storm, according to a port official.
Cowboys official Bruce Mays contacted Greg Iannarelli, the port authority's chief counsel, not long after a warehouse built by Summit for the port collapsed during a snowstorm in February 2003, Iannarelli said. The 102,000-square-foot warehouse at the Philadelphia port collapsed less than two months after it opened. The building was unoccupied when it fell.
The Cowboys were considering using Summit and were concerned, he added.
"My recollection is they wanted to know what happened, and we weren't sure at the time," he told The Associated Press.
Summit received permission from the City of Irving to begin construction on the Cowboys' facility in July 2003. The 88,000-square-foot building fell in high winds last month, leaving a scouting assistant paralyzed from the waist down and injuring 11 others.
Iannarelli had several other conversations with Mays over the next three years. He also sent Mays a copy of a Philadelphia judge's decision in December 2006 stating that the warehouse's collapse was due to design flaws, Iannarelli said.
"We spoke about our position, what we believed was the cause of the collapse," he said.
The Summit engineer listed as responsible for the design of the Cowboys facility was also in charge of overseeing the Philadelphia project, The Dallas Morning News has reported.
The Cowboys' facility is at least the fifth fabric structure built by Summit or a related company, Cover-All Building Systems, to collapse since 2002.
Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple told the AP the team would have no comment. Mays declined to discuss the conversations.