Concrete cracking at the newly built Eagle Stadium, owned by the Allen, Texas, Independent School District, could have broken open into a contentious legal dispute.
The actual resolution for the school district has been much less difficult: The design firm and contractor agreed to carry out a $60-million repair program at no additional cost to the school district and taxpayers.
But there are ominous signs of possible trouble, including a lawsuit and an investigation by the state board of professional engineers. Whether insurers are involved in paying for the work or in any claims remains unclear.
The bond-funded stadium, designed by Houston-based PBK Architects and built by Pogue Construction, McKinney, Texas, opened in August 2012. Soon after, the school district took note of concrete cracks in the structure, which the superintendent claims PBK and Pogue at first called a natural occurrence.
Cracks continued to develop and appear until February of last year, when the school district closed the stadium and brought in a forensics firm to investigate.
According to the March preliminary report by Nelson Forensics, Plano, Texas, cracks in the stadium’s concourse level measured 0.3 in. wide. Cracks also appeared in the on-grade concrete slabs and within the elevated joist floor system. Petrographic examination of core samples taken from the stadium revealed evidence of “poor placement, finishing, and/or curing of the concrete,” and the firm opined that the cracking was in excess of that which is normal for a structure of the type.
Nelson’s June presentation to the school district specified that the retaining walls, concourse framing, press-box support columns and structure, single-story structures, and south scoreboard were all structurally deficient. The firm’s investigation concluded with the development of a repair plan with Dallas-based Datum Engineering.
According to school district's press releases, PBK and Pogue were quick to offer repairs at no additional cost to the school district, although the district board of trustees in July authorized $2 million in additional bond funding to pay for repairs just in case. The district signed the contract for repairs with Pogue in August. The target date for repair completion is May 2015.
A representative for Pogue Construction wrote in an email comment, “The repairs are going as planned. Other than stating that the repairs will be made without cost to taxpayers, there has been no public discussion of the costs.”
Although this represents a peaceful resolution for the school district, both PBK and Pogue are under additional scrutiny from a variety of sources. In September 2013, concrete supplier Potter Structures filed suit in Collin County civil court for lack of payment from Pogue Construction. If the suit is not settled out of court before then, it goes to a jury trial in September.
Local news outlets reported in June that the Texas Board of Professional Engineers is investigating PBK for potential violations in the course of building the Eagle Stadium project.
Texas Board of Professional Engineers Deputy Executive Director David Howell says the investigation into the Eagle Stadium project has no target end date due to the case's complexity. "It's more than just PBK," he says.
Also in June, the Grand Prairie Independent School District sought depositions from PBK consultants through Tarrant County court. PBK worked with the school district on two school building projects—Reagan Middle School and Seguin Elementary School—where soil expansion crushed and separated below-slab pipes a few years after construction ended. The district paid $4 million to replace its below-slab plumbing drainage systems.
Howell says the engineering board's investigation focuses on only the Eagle Stadium project and that the board does not have a case open regarding the Grand Prairies schools.
The Allen Independent School District, PBK Architects and Nelson Forensics did not respond to a request for comment.