Roughly 20 tennis players exchanging forehands and volleys Sunday afternoon on indoor tennis courts in Hanover Park got a surprise when the ceiling began to cave in.
The air-supported dome, which houses four courts at the Hanover Park Park District's Community Center on Walnut Avenue, started collapsing about 4 p.m., Superintendent of Parks and Planning Bob O'Brien said.
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It took 20 or 30 minutes to completely deflate, allowing everyone inside to escape unharmed.
"We're not sure what happened yet, but we hope to have it back up in about a week," O'Brien said.
O'Brien described the dome as a massive fabric tent or balloon with no steel or structural supports. Somehow, a giant tear formed, he said, allowing the supporting air to leak out.
Both a mechanical and structural engineer, along with an insurance adjuster, will survey the damage on Tuesday. The park board planned to hold an emergency special meeting Monday night to discuss various options.
This wasn't the first time the dome has collapsed since opening in late 1999, O'Brien said. A couple of years ago, a heavy storm caused it to come down.
Despite the disruptions, O'Brien said the park district and residents alike have been pleased with the facility. In the meantime, tennis enthusiasts still have their pick of six other indoor courts at Community Center and several outdoor courts located throughout the park district.