Engineering failures cited in report on Allen ISD stadium cracks

Engineering failures cited in report on Allen ISD stadium cracks

Source:, June 19, 2014
By: Julieta Chiquillo

An investigation into the concrete cracking at Allen ISD’s stadium has found that the problems extend far beyond the concourse and mainly involve failures in design.

Engineers found defects from the press box to the main scoreboard. Yet officials hope to reopen the stadium by graduation day in 2015. Work is expected to begin in July.

The $60 million facility opened in 2012 to much fanfare, but around the time of its debut, officials discovered cracks in the concrete that led them to pay for a detailed study of the cause and shut down the venue in February.

Experts are still developing recommendations and cost estimates for repairs to the stadium, which will remain closed for the 2014 football season. The district says taxpayers won’t be on the hook for the cost of fixing the facility.

“We’ve crossed the first stage of resolving the issues with Eagle Stadium,” Superintendent Lance Hindt said at a news conference. “We now know what the problems are.”

Allen ISD released the findings Thursday, a few days after Nelson Forensics — the firm hired by the district to investigate — discussed its conclusions with the school board in a closed meeting.

“These are primarily engineering failures,” Nelson Forensics executive director of operations Ryan T. Chancey said in an Allen ISD news release. “While the concourse is the largest and most serious area, we did find failures in the structural design throughout the stadium.”

PBK Architects designed the stadium, while Pogue Construction served as contractor.

The investigation found design flaws in seven major areas: concourse framing, retaining walls, press box support columns, the press box structure, single-story structures, the main scoreboard and the durability of the stadium.

Nelson engineers didn’t find issues with concrete seating, the concrete pier foundations that support the aboveground structure and the small scoreboard on the north side of the stadium.

That doesn’t mean Allen ISD is absolving Pogue from responsibility.

“I remain committed to holding both PBK and Pogue accountable for the fix of the stadium,” Hindt said. “I remain encouraged. PBK and Pogue have stood by the district.”

On Thursday, both PBK and Pogue repeated vows to work with Allen ISD in fixing the stadium.

PBK said in a short statement that it will respond “swiftly and diligently” to implement the repairs. In more than 30 years, the company has designed more than 3,550 school structures and 45 stadiums nationwide, according to the statement.

“We are proud of the exceptional quality of our designs and of our work serving the educational industry nationwide,” the statement said.

Ben Pogue, president and CEO of the company that bears his name, addressed questions outside Allen High School after the news conference. He didn’t dispute the district’s findings.

“At first blush, everything we see here is exactly what we’ve seen and expected,” Pogue said.

The construction company will work amicably with PBK to find a solution, Pogue added.

Nelson has partnered with Datum Engineers to detail how to fix the stadium and how much it will cost.

“We will rely on their expertise to get the stadium fixed to the level this community expects and we are satisfied with,” school board President Louise Master said in an email.

Allen ISD plans to repair the facility in segments based on the seven problem areas identified by the investigation, Hindt said.

PBK and Pogue noted earlier in the year that they were conducting their own investigations. Hindt said Allen ISD has shared its findings with the companies’ experts.

“There are some things we agree on, and I’m sure that there are things that we don’t agree on,” Hindt said. “But PBK and Pogue have both acknowledged that the direction the district wants to go is the direction we’re going to go.”

Hindt, who joined the district in March, said city of Allen officials and the Allen ISD school board performed their due diligence regarding the stadium.

“I do believe clearly that all the steps were taken — the proper steps — by process and procedure,” Hindt said. “We just have a stadium that wasn’t designed right and wasn’t constructed right.”

Meanwhile, Pogue is already embroiled in a lawsuit with a subcontractor.

Documents from the lawsuit, obtained by The Dallas Morning News, show that the concrete provider Potter Structures is seeking more than $1 million, alleging breach of contract by Pogue. The construction company did not pay the concrete provider after problems with the stadium surfaced. The lawsuit was filed in September.

Court records now show a jury trial set for February in Collin County, though both parties agreed to mediation in March. Pogue said his company is in discussions with Potter.

The concrete provider didn’t respond to a request for comment. It’s unclear how the district’s findings will affect the lawsuit, but Pogue elaborated in a statement.

“Subject to the law, until Allen ISD confirms that it is satisfied with the quality of concrete workmanship at the stadium or it is determined that the funds are no longer needed to protect Allen ISD, Pogue intends to hold the funds in reserve to protect Allen,” the statement read.

PBK and Pogue have avoided speculating on repair cost estimates in their public comments.

But in Pogue’s response to the Potter lawsuit — filed in November — the company claimed that the money sought by the subcontractor might not be enough to fix the problem.

“It is anticipated that the cost of repairing or replacing the defective work may significantly exceed any amount Potter claims is owed to it at this time,” Pogue said in court records.

AT A GLANCE: Inquiry findings

Problems cited by Nelson Forensics:

Inadequate concrete columns supporting the press box.

Insufficient steel framing of the press box.

Connections at the base of the main scoreboard that weren’t strong enough.

A retaining wall without sufficient steel reinforcement.

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