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Camp Randall Sized Sinkhole Swallows Camp Randall

In what will go down as an earth-shaking event, Camp Randall Stadium sank 50 feet into the ground during the early morning hours this past Thursday.

Brian Klatt
March 30, 2017

In what will go down as an earth-shaking event, Camp Randall Stadium sank 50 feet into the ground during the early morning hours this past Thursday.

“Who could’ve predicted something like this would’ve ever happened?” says Erv Weissberger, a Camp Randall maintenance worker, and the first person on the scene.

Civil engineering professor Charles Von Richtenstein offered just such a prediction during a talk he gave on campus last semester titled, “Camp Randall’s Going to Sink 50 Feet Any Day Now.”

According to Von Richtenstein, the terra firma the stadium sits on wasn’t so firma after all: “Our studies have shown an abnormally high concentration of worm activity in and around — and most importantly, under — the stadium.” All those worms and their wriggling had a loosening effect on the soil, Von Richtenstein states.

But worms alone couldn’t explain how the stadium was brought down. “There’s just no explaining how something like this could’ve happened,” says Weissberger.

“It’s simple, really,” explains Von Richtenstein. “… what with all the hopping the kids do during games.” He is, of course, referring to Jump Around — the now-time-honored tradition at Badger home football games when fans, well, jump around between the third and fourth quarters to the song of the same name by House of Pain.

The structural damage caused by the Jump Around–induced series of vibrations combined with the porous soil was the perfect recipe to create a stadium-sized sinkhole. The question now becomes, where do we go from here? Oh, and was Tunnel Bob harmed in any way during this incident?

Von Richtenstein — now head of the UW task force: Helping to Understand this Hole or “Huh” — believes it will not be feasible to raise the stadium back up to ground level. But with a few design modifications, he says it could be structurally sound enough to continue hosting games and the 80,000-plus fans who show up for them.

One of the options on the table includes installing ski-hill-style chairlifts to take players and fans down into the sinkhole to reach the field or their seats. And with sponsorship opportunities aplenty, there’s even talk of partnering with a Wisconsin Dells waterpark to construct waterslides leading down to the stands.

“To ensure that the stadium doesn’t plummet to the molten core, however,” says Von Richtenstein, “I’m recommending an immediate end to any more leaping to and fro. This isn’t a bouncy house, people.”

But that doesn’t mean the professor is suggesting doing away completely with an activity that rallies fans. “I’m meeting with the UW Athletic Department in the coming days to propose a new song: something a bit more subdued, but no less peppy,” he says. “Maybe ‘Summer Breeze’ by Seals & Crofts or ‘I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)’ by Hall & Oates. They’re both real toe tappers … although I’d discourage that activity, too. Best to keep things to a gentle sway or a controlled knee slap.”

“All I can say is that no one saw this coming,” says Weissberger.

Von Richtenstein reports that he’s been warning about just such an occurrence for the last seven years. “Eventually something had to give, and in this case, it was the ground … and the people’s love of 90s dance music.”

We hope you enjoy April Fools Day. On, Wisconsin!

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