ANAHEIM — Sony Corp. was responsible for ensuring Anaheim Stadium's girders could support the 17-ton scoreboard that collapsed during last week's Northridge earthquake, city documents released this week show.
Contracts and letters among the city, Sony and the construction firm that was hired to expand the stadium show that it was the electronics giant that was to hire the engineers who would conduct load tests of the Jumbotron's structural support system and take responsibility for any errors.
The city Wednesday refused to release copies of Sony's engineering reports, saying they were still being looked at by inspectors at the stadium. Nor would the city comment on the released documents.
"We are not offering any interpretation of the documents," city spokesman Bret Colson said. "They stand on their own."
City Manager James D. Ruth, citing that no other buildings within 30 miles of the stadium suffered major structural damage during the Jan. 17 quake, said previously that a "structural flaw" in the support system was the likely cause of the collapse.
The scoreboard, installed in 1988, fell from its moorings during the quake, crushing or damaging at least 1,000 seats in the upper deck in the left-field stands. Damage has been estimated at more than $3 million. Hundreds may have been killed had the seats been occupied.
The city, which has applied for federal disaster aid to repair the stadium, has said it will take legal steps to recoup its losses from whomever it deems responsible for the collapse. It has hired three engineering firms to help in its investigation.
Sony declined Wednesday to comment in detail on the collapse or the documents, citing possible litigation.
"We're investigating (the collapse), the city's investigating and we all have a lot more to learn," Sony spokesman Rick Clancy said. "The city has sent us a letter explaining what legal options it is exploring. Under company policy, we are prohibited from going into too much detail."
Clancy said Sony hired a subcontractor, White Way Sign Co. of Chicago, to do the installation of the scoreboard. White Way officials refused comment Wednesday.
The decision to install a new scoreboard was made in 1985, six years after the stadium was expanded to house the Los Angeles Rams football team. The city wanted to replace the black-and-white scoreboard that had been installed during the $33-million expansion with a color scoreboard, documents show.
The city began seeking bids from scoreboard companies and in December, 1987, signed an agreement with Sony, agreeing to buy the board and its installation for $5 million.
The contract said Sony could hire subcontractors such as White Way to do the installation, but it remained "primarily liable" for the work, according to city documents.
Meanwhile, the city rehired the firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, which completed the expansion, to review Sony's engineering reports.
In a December, 1987, letter, Lauren D. Carpenter, a Skidmore associate partner, wrote that Sony had retained engineers "who will prepare all necessary structural calculations for the new work as well as for checking the existing stadium structure for new loadings and for any necessary remedial strengthening required."
The letter goes on to reiterate that Skidmore's task was only to review Sony's plans by acting as a consultant to the city and that it was not to be held responsible if the plans were faulty.
Skidmore officials did not return calls for comment.