St. Louis Arena - St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis Arena - St. Louis, Missouri

02/27/1999
The Loizeaux Group, LLC

On February 27, 1999 at 5:45 PM, Central Time, the 70 year old St. Louis Arena was felled by CDI through the controlled use of explosives.

Spirtas Wrecking Company of St. Louis, the prime demolition contractor, retained the services of Controlled Demolition Incorporated (CDI) of Phoenix, Maryland to design and perform an explosives demolition sequence to reduce risk to demolition workers during removal of the venerable domed arena which originally hosted major dairy shows and acted as home to the St. Louis Blues Hockey Team and other civic events.

Designed by a German immigrant and completed in 1929, the arena is a lightly built, structurally complex system of arches and trusses made of both wood and steel. "The extreme interdependency of elements and the resultant light-weight construction created an uncomfortably high probability of uncontrolled progressive failure under conventional (non-explosives) demolition methods," according to Mark Loizeaux, President of CDI. "Spirtas has one of the best demolition safety records in the U.S. Their concern for the safety of their employees is what brought CDI to St. Louis."

It took CDI four weeks to analyze the unique structural system and design the preparation and implosion sequence. "CDI didn’t take on the project to flatten out the structure as is the case in the implosion of most high-rise structures we demolish," according to Mark Loizeaux. "The intricacies and innate flexible strength of the wooden Lamella truss roof lacks the weight to bring the structure down fully. All CDI is trying to do is drop the perimeter of the structure 20 ft. and drop the roof to the arena floor where excavators can tear it apart."

CDI placed 1,462 separate explosives charges in over 250 locations throughout the structure on several levels. A total of 133 lb. of explosives were detonated over 14 seconds, allowing the roof structure to float down gently as the envelope of air under the roof was displaced during the fall.

"It is with regret that we are helping demolish such an interesting structure" says Mark Loizeaux, who studied both architecture and business administration before joining the Loizeaux Family business in 1970. "It helps to know that we were neither the judge or jury, carrying out a sentence that was passed down by others." Rather than let the last images gracing local television and print media reflect the end of the arena’s story, CDI was asked to help create a more positive memory for all.

With decades of experience in producing major motion picture, television and private developer displays, Stacey Loizeaux, Media Coordinator for CDI, toned down their approach to confer the dignity of the moment deserved on this project. Working with Phil Grucci, Vice President of Fireworks by Grucci, Inc. of Brookhaven, New York, CDI designed a visual; warning program to notify onlookers present of the impending event and provide a pyrotechnic back drop to the implosion as a positive counterpoint to the fall of the structure. CDI felt that the pyrotechnics were a nice way for the people of St. Louis to say good-bye to an "old friend."

St. Louis is familiar with CDI and the Loizeaux Family’s services. In the 1970’s, they demolished portions of the Pruitt Igoe Housing Complex and have imploded dozens of other structures in the region.