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Home at the Dome


By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

 GRAPELAND – While it’s not quite a home court advantage, when the Grapeland Sandies take the floor in San Antonio against the Muenster Hornets on Friday, they will most definitely have the home roof advantage!

The Sandies and Hornets are scheduled to tip off in the Alamodome at 8:30 a.m. and if the Sandie players look up to the top of the dome they will see a major part of Grapeland watching every shot, rebound, pass and assist.

Sure, the Alamodome has seen the likes of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, David Robinson, Kawhi Leonard  and Coach Gregg Popovich trod the hardwood courts hundreds of feet below but it’s always nice to see someone from your hometown in a faraway place.

You see, the products used to construct the roof of the Alamodome were built right here in Grapeland by Vulcraft, a Division of Nucor.

According to Vulcraft’s Inside Sales Supervisor Glen Streetman, “It was over a $2 million job for us and there were 88 truckloads of material. Thirty-five of the joists were 210 feet long. Our average joist length is probably around 50 feet.”

Streetman said there were over 1,700 tons of joists and steel decking shipped to the Alamo City for the construction of the Alamo(Sandie)dome.
“It was a publicly bid job that we bid out to our customers and in turn they bid it out to contractors. We bid against our competition on the project.  It was probably bid out a few different times,” he said. “Our job file – of course everything now is electronic – we kept in folders in a filing cabinet. The typical job folder is maybe an inch or two inches thick. This one took up three full drawers.”

Asked about some of the more difficult aspects of the project, Streetman said the sheer size of the job made it more complicated than normal.

“The size of the material, with some of the joists being 210 feet in length, was the main thing. The complexity of the job also made it difficult. Back in 1991, a lot of this stuff was done by hand – the detailing and drafting part of it. As a matter of fact, the two guys who detailed it – the one who detailed it and the one who checked it are still with us,” he said.

“The one who detailed it, Jimmy Owens, is now out in our Atlanta office. The guy who checked it, Farrell Dancer, is still here in this office.”

Asked about the initial reaction of the engineers when presented with this project, Streetman laughed and said, “They probably freaked out!”

“I have found some notes in the file,” he continued, “which showed our engineering team worked with the structural engineers on this project for a year before we ever put a bid in for the job. There was a lot of legwork put in upfront. I think that may be a lot of the reason we ended up with the project, simply because of the amount of work we put into it ahead of time.”

The Alamodome officially opened on May 15, 1993.

Interesting facts about the facility were also provided by Streetman in relation to the Queen City of the Sandflat’s contribution to the Alamo City’s showpiece. Among these were:

  • There were 26 miles of 5×5 and 6×6 angle iron used in the construction.
  • There were 37 miles of three inch roof deck and approximately 35 miles of welds used to fabricate the joists.
  • There were 102 total deliveries and 33,960 freight miles traveled.
  • There were 1,714 tons of total product moved from Grapeland to San Antonio.
  • The heaviest single joist supplied by Vulcraft weighed 18 tons.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.