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Coliseum Looks Almost Ready : Quake: Much progress has been made recently in repairing the stadium, which is set to reopen Sept. 3.

August 19, 1994|KENNETH REICH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Little more than two weeks before its scheduled reopening Sept. 3, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum officials gave a tour of the facility's earthquake repair project Thursday, and it revealed there has been dramatic progress in the last three weeks.

On the upper-level concourse, throughout the 68,000 regular seats, in the historic peristyle, and in the expanded outside concourse, hundreds of workers are doing the detail work that they say will ensure a Coliseum ready for USC and Raider football crowds this fall.

Those conducting the tour--repair project director Don C. Webb, Los Angeles City Council President John Ferraro and Margaret Farnum, chief administrative officer for the commission--hailed the $60-million project, financed primarily with federal disaster funds, as a sterling example of what government can do in a short time when it gets its act together.

Normally, Webb said, it would have taken eight to 10 months just to design the repair and 24 more months to accomplish it. "Instead, we have done it in just six months since it was officially authorized several weeks following the Jan. 17 earthquake."

Farnum, Ferraro--who also serves as vice president of the Coliseum Commission--and Webb all lauded Tutor-Saliba Corp., the prime contractor, for its management of a work force that numbered as high as 1,300 at times, working shifts 24 hours a day, to accomplish a project twice as costly as the Santa Monica Freeway repair.

"This is now the one stadium in Southern California that meets all of the current seismic standards," Webb said. "I'm not suggesting that the other stadiums are unsafe, but I can say this is the only one empirically that meets all the standards.

"This stadium is safe for everybody but the people on the visiting team," Webb quipped.

The gaping cracks that were evident at the stadium after the earthquake are gone, and with the new concession booths, new restrooms and a handsome maroon-and-white decor in the upper concourse, the stadium, once obviously aging, appears to have new life.

"No doubt, the easiest thing after the quake was to tear this place down," Ferraro said. "But then there would have been a tremendous fight from the preservationists as to how to rebuild it, and it would have been much more costly to rebuild, and much more difficult to secure the financing."

Originally, the estimate of the cost of the repair was $35 million. But Webb said the work of seismically securing the stadium turned out to be far more complicated than expected. With the partial demolition of the quake-ruined press box and placement of 150 temporary outdoor desk-seats for the press, the most recent repair estimate of $58 million has been pushed to about $60 million.

On Thursday, the tour revealed this status for key aspects of the Coliseum:

* The upper concourse will be complete and the restrooms functioning by Sept. 3. All power is due to be turned back on this week.

* Fifty-six massive reinforcing steel-and-concrete A-beams, containing more concrete than 15 freeway overpasses, have been installed to anchor the stadium. All are complete.

* Thousands of cracks have been sealed and seats replaced in their former locations. Several hundred seats must still be reinstalled, but the work is expected to be completed by Sept. 3. A large crack around the stadium has been sealed and encased with a $500,000 rubber isoflex joint that will be evident to fans occupying seats in one mid-level row.

* The peristyle still requires considerable pouring of reinforcing concrete, but this is scheduled to be complete in time for installation of new scoreboards on Aug. 27.

* Landscaping of the earthen berm supporting the outer stadium is proceeding clockwise around the stadium. Considerable work is finished on the south side; the north side, where the berm is barren, will be landscaped next week. Twenty huge palm trees, removed after the earthquake, will be replanted near the food court.

* About 25% of the press box has been demolished. Only the first level will be used this fall, for television cameras and network correspondents. Full demolition and construction of a new press box will proceed after this season.

* The outer ground-level concourse has been extended in one corner and the ground prepared to build a temporary food court that will replace some concessions that were removed to make way for the A-beams. A permanent food court will be built after the season.

* Three new electric power stations have been built outside the stadium, and it will have more power available than it did previously.

"There will be things that will not be finished by Sept. 3," Webb said. "But what will be finished 100% will be all the seismic and structural elements of this project."

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