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Originally published December 20, 2011 at 5:32 PM | Page modified December 21, 2011 at 10:40 AM

Half of Husky Stadium's south roof comes down

Demolition continues, with other half scheduled to fall later this week.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A key step in the renovation of Husky Stadium left one of Seattle's iconic structures looking quite different Tuesday.

At 10:30 a.m., workers began cutting the supports that for more than 61 years have held up half of the overhanging roof on the south side of Husky Stadium. And after they cut the fourth of five supports shortly after 1 p.m., the east half of the roof (nearest Union Bay) collapsed onto the stands.

A similar procedure will be used to collapse the other half of the roof within a week. Then workers will cut the roof into pieces and haul it away.

All of this is part of the demolition to allow for the building of an essentially new stadium in time for the 2013 season.

The entire south side is scheduled to be demolished by late February or early March.

Hydraulic shears were used to cut supports to the roof, which had been built as part of an expansion in 1950.

Department spokesman Carter Henderson said "there are two very distinct sections of the roof," and the east side portion was cut first.

Henderson said no one was sure whether the roof would collapse after cutting the first support, or all five.

The outside support was cut first, then one on the opposite side. Henderson said the supports flanking the one in the middle were then cut. After the fourth support was cut, the roof began to collapse.

"At that time, it couldn't support the weight, and then the whole thing just kind of crashed," he said.

Henderson said another unknown was whether the roof might slide onto the field, so everything had been cleared.

The overhanging roofs over the upper decks give Husky Stadium its unique "jaws" profile. The lower bowl was originally built in 1920, with the north overhang added in 1987.

Henderson said the scoreboard will also be brought down in stages in the next few weeks.

So far, Henderson said the demolition is going as scheduled, though the complexity of the process has made it difficult to pinpoint exact times and dates.

"We were trying to nail things down when we first started the project and the construction guys said, 'Look, there is no other structure like this in the world,' " he said.

The first major step of construction, erecting the steel for the football operations building on the west side of the stadium, is expected to begin in May.

Total cost of the project is $250 million. Washington will play 2012 home games at CenturyLink Field while the renovation continues.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

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