Around the Quads

The Third Time Was the Charm for the Bubble at Baker

MIKE McLAUGHLIN / COLUMBIA ATHLETICS

On January 26, 1972, a storm swept across New York City with winds of more than 60 mph; Columbia wasn’t immune from the destruction it wreaked. The New York Times reported: “At the northern end of Manhattan, the Dick Mason Airdome, known as the Bubble, at 218th Street near Broadway, collapsed shortly after noon. ... Damage was estimated at $100,000.” The air-supported athletics space — 250 ft. long and 60 ft. high — had been erected just two years earlier, and was state of the art at the time.

The dome was reconstructed, but blew down again during 55-mph storm winds on February 2, 1976. At that point, the dream of the Bubble at Baker burst, and the University relocated the track team’s practice site to South Field for the next few years.

On February 21, 2017, the Bubble rose once more, as advances in technology made a seasonal structure feasible again. The new Bubble cost approximately $10 million; it is inflated annually from December through March, and is used by the football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, baseball, softball, field hockey and lacrosse teams. In April 2020, during the height of the pandemic in NYC, the Bubble was converted into a field hospital for treating Covid-19 patients.