Jacksonville’s Tile-Gate

A local TV news channel got its hands on a report regarding the city-owned Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., and has concluded that neither man, woman nor child is safe – and it’s costing taxpayers untold fortunes. Live at 11.

SMG, facility manager of the 15,000-capacity venue, commissioned a study from architect THP on the structure, built in 2003. Two 70-page reports, dated July 2010 and November 2011, paid for by the city, apparently came back with some bad news about the $130 million venue’s exterior.

The arena’s “loose stone accents pose a potential hazard” and the “perimeter of the building should be cordoned off to prevent public access,” the reports say, according to the city’s First Coast News.

The news station ran a series of investigative reports focusing on the possibility that cosmetic tiles could fall off and bonk patrons on their heads. The reports included interviews with several city councilmen and officials. The “Tile-gate” cover-up apparently goes all the way to the Mayor’s office, the reports imply.

However, Misty Skipper, spokeswoman for SMG in Jacksonville, told Pollstar that scaffoldings are in place, preventing visitors from walking below potentially loose stones, and the situation will be addressed. Skipper stressed that the actual structure is sound. In other words, nobody is anticipating the building tipping over any time soon.

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual. The venue hosted Cirque du Soleil’s popular Michael Jackson show March 7-8, and upcoming shows include Van Halen, Lady Antebellum and Brad Paisley.

Check out the TV news report: