The Los Angeles Coliseum's project manager said Wednesday that all earthquake repair work may not be complete until December, and the stadium capacity for next fall's football games could be as low as 50,000 while repairs continue at upper levels.
But even as Don C. Webb sketched out the possibility that 1994 spectators might not have escalators to get to their seats or a full array of concessions, due to the need to construct new reinforcing beams for the outer wall, the contractor who will do the project was more optimistic.
Ron Tutor, president of Tutor-Saliba Corp., declared outside a Coliseum Commission meeting, "If we don't open the stadium with significant capacity by September, I'm leaving town on an extended tour of Europe, because I won't be able to face my friends."
The Coliseum's capacity last season was 67,802 for Raider games and as high as 94,000 for big USC games.
Tutor said he is prepared to work virtually around the clock on a project that Coliseum commissioners were told will entail demolition and rebuilding of the entire interior passage at the upper concourse level, as well as substantial compacting of the earthen berm underlying the stadium.
Webb, meanwhile, told commissioners he is increasing his previous estimate of the cost of repairs from $33 million to $34.7 million, and said the figure could go higher, especially if a number of concession facilities must be rebuilt when the beams are in place.
The Coliseum Commission gave its approval for a $1.08 million contract for Webb and a staff of six to manage the project, and a contract of indeterminate cost for Tutor-Saliba to perform the work, with a provision for a 3.5% margin for overhead and profit. Commissioners said the cost of the work will be filled in when the precise figures are available, with the funds coming from federal and state disaster funds.
Acting last month under an emergency proclamation, the commission decided to award the contracts without bids.
Wednesday, however, the commission's president, Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke; the vice president, Los Angeles City Council President John Ferraro, and contractor Tutor gave assurances to Danny Bakewell, head of the Brotherhood Crusade, and other black community representatives that minority subcontractors will receive a share of the work.
Appearing before the commission, both architect Terry Miller of the HNTB firm and structural engineer Nabib Youssef said they have zeroed in on more reliable estimates of the earthquake damage to the Coliseum, and have substantially settled on the reconstruction that will be necessary.
They said this can be done without dramatic alteration of the stadium's appearance.
At the same time, Webb announced that an agreement has been reached by the Los Angeles Conservancy, a preservationist group, and the California Office of Historic Preservation, allowing necessary temporary demolitions to proceed, exposing the damaged elements and facilitating the repair work.
Webb said it is possible that work on interior beams to support the outer wall, repairs on the peristyle end and rebuilding of the escalators and concessions will still be continuing when the football season begins. He said he had informed the Raiders of this, but that team officials had no immediate reaction.
Tutor called the prospect of such substantial ongoing construction next fall a "worst case scenario."