Source: Collegiate Times, July 5, 2006
By: Lindsey Pieper
And the legal woes of the Lane Stadium expansion drag on.
In what may turn out to be a recurring refrain of legality clashes and delays, Turner Construction, the general contractor of the expansion faces yet another lawsuit.
In May, the Gate Precast Co. of Jacksonville, Fla. sued the construction group and four insurance companies in the U.S. District Court in Roanoke. According to the lawsuit, Gate sued Turner for breach of contract, claiming entitlement to $673,731. Gate filed suit against the insurance companies for a payment bond which secures payment to Turner’s subcontractors.
According to Associate Director of Athletics Tom Gabbard, who has been involved with the expansion project from the onset, the lawsuit has since gone to mediation. The original lawsuit states that Turner contracted Gate to make stadium exterior wall panels, promising to pay $1.145 million for the work.
But delays allegedly caused problems.
“There was no schedule due to the numerous delays to shop-drawing approval and start of production that were caused by others,” said the lawsuit. And these delays caused “monetary damage.”
According to the lawsuit, the installation of the wall panels was scheduled to commence in January 2005, but delays caused by Turner did not allow the construction to begin until April 2005, with implementation in the following month.
Turner had already appeared in court over similar issues revolving around Lane Stadium delays.
In October 2005, Varney Inc. of Roanoke, sued Turner for a breach of contract. Varney asked for $3,694,984 from the construction group: $889,810 for a withheld payment and an additional $2,805,174 for Varney’s inability to manage other projects during the time. Turner had hired Varney for mechanical work, diffusing to the group the responsibilities of plumbing, air conditioning, heating and ventilation.
In February the case was settled for an undisclosed monetary amount.
When asked about the reason for the delays, Gabbard explained that different people see the causes differently.
“It depends on who you’re talking to,” he said. “If you’re talking to Turner, they’ll tell you one thing. If you’re talking to us, we may tell you something else.”
He added that the blame for the time discrepancies remains unanswered.
“I don’t want to give a lot of specifics. It’s still unresolved. I can’t give a lot of meat.”
Almost two years prior to these court-based sagas and an almost nine-month delay, the Lane Stadium west sideline expansion project took its original form. In August 2003, the Board of Visitors approved the $52.5 million plan. Initially, the blueprints embraced a plethora of new features, including professional stadium lighting, several lounges and suites, new indoor and outdoor club seats as well as a new President’s Box.
After construction of the concrete foundation, March 2004 served as the launch date, with an intended termination 22 months later in August, 2005. The construction plans called for an August 8 end-date, spacing time to ensure completion before the football team took the field in September.
But the first home game against Marshall approached with no end to construction in sight. Finally, on June 12, 2006, Virginia Tech was awarded a Certificate of Occupancy, signifying completion.
“We’re good to go. All that’s left to do is the sight work on the outside, and that’ll be done Aug. 1,” Gabbard said.
While the quick thinking and improvising required for the 2005 football season more than sufficed, there are high hopes with the completion for the upcoming year.
“I think the fans are going to love it,” Gabbard said. “This has been frustrating for everybody, but the finished product is outstanding.”
The Turner Group is a construction group responsible for many impressive stadiums and buildings, including the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Turner built the Bank of America Stadium, home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, and renovated Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers.
Gate serves as one of the largest producers of architectural precast concrete, working with architects, contractors and developers in the eastern U.S. Currently, Gate is aiding the Lucas Oil Stadium construction, the home of the Indianapolis Colts.
Roanoke’s Varney Inc., has been involved in several local projects, including work on Tech’s Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center.