Winstar Casino plans inspection of tent

THACKERVILLE, Okla -- Oklahoma is no stranger to high winds and severe weather. Winstar's Casinos in Love County are housed inside a similar type of building that came crashing down last weekend in Irving. Eleven people in all were hurt at Valley Ranch when a microburst destroyed the facility.

While the buildings are similar, casino representatives say there are big differences.

"WinStar World Casino's facility is not the same type of structure as the Dallas Cowboys' facility. The WinStar facility has different dimensions and a different profile which makes it less vulnerable to high straight winds. Our facility has sustained high winds and severe weather in the past without failure," said Winstar Casino spokeswoman, Kym Koch.

The construction you see behind me is a third building being constructed by a different company than the one who built the other two. Winstar says the decision to change contractors is not related to the integrity of the structures, and they remain confident in the safety of their buildings.

Soft structures are a skeleton of steel covered by two tarps. Though it is durable, a microburst destroyed the Cowboys' facility in one fell swoop.

Brett Loftis is a photographer who works frequently for the Cowboys and Winstar.

"Why would anyone build that in Oklahoma? I've been in the Cowboys practice facility and when I walked in I thought, 'this is a huge tent'," Loftis said.

The Winstar hasn't lost any business, but some customers say they're not approaching with caution.

"I'll come back if the weather's nice, but if the weather's bad I won't," said Jose Campos.

Winstar has increased it's regularly scheduled inspections due to the Valley Ranch collapse, but casino management says it doesn't anticipate any problems.

THACKERVILLE, Okla. (AP) - Officials at the WinStar Casino in southern Oklahoma say they planned to inspect a tent structure even before one collapsed at the Dallas Cowboys' training facility.

Spokeswoman Kym Koch says the inspection was planned two weeks ago, but could be prioritized after the collapse Saturday at the Cowboys' facility injured 12 and paralyzed one man from the waist down.

Both tents were built by Summit Structures LLC of Allentown, Pa., but Koch says the casino's tent structure is not as tall as the one that was at Cowboys' practice facility.

The Chickasaw Nation plans to hire a team of construction experts for the safety audit on the tent, which was last inspected in 2007.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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