Stadium construction issues nearly resolved

  • Comments
  • Print

Indoor-plumbing problems and outdoor-signage issues continue to linger at Lucas Oil Stadium more than two years after the facility opened, according to the executive director of the Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority.

Despite the pesky problems, John Klipsch said he is pleased with the overall construction work on the stadium. The Indiana Legislature created the authority in 2005 to oversee construction of Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center addition, which will officially open Jan. 20.

About 5 percent of the stadium’s piping will need to be replaced at a cost of roughly $2 million to $3 million, Klipsch said, but the agency hopes to recoup the funds from a defunct plumbing contractor’s bonding company.

In the meantime, the neon signs on each side of the building that display the Lucas Oil Stadium moniker are, for the most part, working properly after contractors spent several months replacing integral lighting equipment.

“The [stadium] project, as a whole, turned out to be a wonderful project,” Klipsch said. “Ninety-nine percent of the contractors were great. It’s just the ones that failed that get the media coverage, and that’s unfortunate.”

Klipsch briefed Capital Improvement Board of Marion County members on the lingering issues last month and explained the issues in detail Tuesday from his office near the $700 million stadium. The CIB manages the stadium, as well as Conseco Fieldhouse, Victory Field and the Indiana Convention Center.

The Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority recently chose to have large, galvanized steel pipes that channel water into the stadium replaced after discovering leaking and unusual corrosion in one, 20-foot section.

Though studies are under way to pinpoint a cause, the deterioration could have been caused by the way the piping was manufactured or installed, or by the way water softeners are used in the plumbing setup.

The plumbing fixes are set to begin in the spring and finish before the Indianapolis Colts start the fall football season.
“This is one we’ll be fighting over with the original plumbing contractor’s bonding company,” said Klipsch, who didn’t rule out possible litigation to recover costs.

Construction bonding protects project owners and developers by helping to guarantee that a project will be completed as expected. In instances where a bonded contractor fails to perform, the bonding company typically provides some sort of restitution to the project owner.

The Frank E. Irish Co., a large Indianapolis mechanical-contracting firm, installed the stadium’s plumbing. It ceased operations in May 2008, before the stadium opened later that year.

Of the stadium’s lingering problems, the signs “really bug me the most,” Klipsch said, because they’ve “taken so long to get fixed.”

A now-bankrupt contractor based in Illinois designed the outdoor signage. But finding the ideal time to fix connection flaws has loomed larger than locating a replacement contractor.

The neon lighting hasn't functioned properly from the beginning, Klipsch said, and it’s taken two years to replace all 4,000 electrical boots connecting the neon tubes on the 60 letters that comprise the four signs attached to the building’s exterior.

Contractors can’t get on a scaffolding to make repairs when it’s raining, snowing or too windy, or when the stadium is hosting an event.

In a three-month time period, from July to September, for instance, there were 62 working days, but only 38 days available to contractors, mostly because of events, Klipsch said.

The original contractor’s bonding company is paying for the repairs.

CIB President Ann Lathrop understands the lengthy time it’s taken to make some of the repairs.

“We’ve got a good working relationship with ISCBA and John, and we continue to work collaboratively with issues as they continue to be identified,” she said. “And we’ll do the same thing as it relates to the expansion of the convention center.”

Another stadium repair involved replacing the protective membrane, which kept lifting up, on the north and south stationary sections of the mechanical roof. The work, covered by a warranty, was finished in November.

Putting the size of the 63,000-seat stadium into perspective, the entire retractable roof measures 11 acres, of which 1.8 acres of membrane needed to be replaced.

Inside, 16 rows of retractable seating at the north end of the stadium are supposed to move mechanically across the surface of the stadium floor to accomodate seating for smaller basketball events, such as women’s NCAA regional games. But the seats won’t roll properly on the protective cover placed on the field to prevent damaging it.

Because the seats may only need to be moved once or twice a year, the CIB opted to take part of the contractor’s retainer fee and use the money to instead rent a forklift to move the seats when needed.

And, this past summer, ISCBA replaced heating units in the two east and west elevator lobbies with larger ones because the spaces weren’t staying warm enough. The authority replaced the systems at a cost of less than $100,000.


Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.