I-Team: Safety concerns raised at Cleveland’s Public Auditorium

CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I TEAM is investigating safety concerns at Cleveland’s Public Auditorium, a landmark building used for the recent Rock Hall Induction concert along with sporting events, political events and much more.

A man who attended the Rock Hall concert last month turned to the I-Team with pictures of a situation that alarmed him.

As the crowd left, Bill Terry found himself surrounded by people inching along shoulder-to-shoulder down hallways with no doors or exit signs in sight. He wondered: What would happen in an emergency?

Terry said, "This would have been a stampede. People would have been trampled to death."

"That was my primary concern. Where are we going? Where are the exit signs? I was never as glad to get out of a building as I was that night. And I've been to a lot of concerts and a lot of venues."

Terry spoke to us from Virginia, and he also raised concerns about poor lighting on stairways and no handrails. He added, "And I was just trying to follow the mantra here, you see something, say something. That's what I'm trying to accomplish here.”

We showed the pictures and took concerns to the Cleveland Public Works Director and the Fire Marshal. They say there’s nothing to worry about at Public Auditorium..

Public Works Director Michael Cox said, "We would not allow people in this building if we believed there were safety issues in this building." Cox added, "People have a concern about a lot of things whether it’s a piece of paper on the street or….” We pointed out, this is more important than a piece of paper on the street. Cox responded with, "Well, it’s not serious because there’s no issue here."

The building was built in 1922, and since it’s so old, it’s not held to all of the same safety standards of new buildings. For instance, Public Auditorium does not have to have a sprinkler system. The City, however, says it has added other fire safety measures, and it does regular fire inspections.

In fact, Public Auditorium is now part of a bid for Cleveland and Canton to host the NFL Draft. So we went to David Gilbert with the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. He also claims, no problem with the building. Gilbert said, “For large events in there, and there are events for 10,000 people, it works. So I don't think there's any reason for concern."

The I-Team also pulled inspections. Last year, one showed, “Fire alarm has many troubles in system.” The City says it replaced the system that was malfunctioning.

In the end, City Hall sees no need to make any fire safety changes. But Bill won’t be going back to Public Auditorium.

He said, “If you were to put $10,000 on the table, and say, ‘Would you go to another show there?’ I would decline.”