UCF stadium report shows ‘failing’ areas
Rust issues affect structural integrity; repairs could cost $14M
The decade-old University of Central Florida football stadium is rusted and corroded, with some “immediate life safety concerns,” according to an engineering report that says repairs could cost $14 million.
University officials say they have fixed the worst problems and are weighing long-term plans.
According to the report, which was contracted by the university and completed in August, Spectrum Stadium’s rust problems have affected the structural integrity of the 45,000-seat venue at the university’s main campus in east Orange County. Corrosion affects more than 80,000 square feet of the stadium, it said — four stairways had heavily rusted supports and a potential for “significant section loss” at the time, the TLC Engineering report found. Areas of the stadium’s fireproofing were cracked, corroded and graded “failing.”
“Left unabated, this presents a significant loss risk of undermining the structural integrity of the stadium framing,” according to the 455-page report. Rust is so pervasive that it has “progressed to structural damage” in some lo-
cations. Maps specified corrosion “hot” spots throughout the stadium, with more concentrated in lower-bowl areas.
“We completed repairs on all of the most significant findings before we played our first home game this season,” said Chad Binette, UCF assistant vice president. “This report will help us determine the best way forward for additional repairs and long-term maintenance of the stadium.” UCF officials had earlier said they launched an “emergency” rust remediation plan and the emergency was due to the deadline of football season instead of safety.
The home of the UCF Knights football program has become so rusted that an overhaul could cost about a quarter of the stadium’s $54 million price tag. In September, the school sued contractors and architects who built the stadium during an 18-month period that was compressed to meet the fall 2007 season.
Reasons for the premature aging lie mostly with poorly coated steel, according to the engineers hired by UCF. Contractors used urethane powder coating systems suited for “light duty environments” but not “an extended life span as expected at Spectrum Stadium,” the report reads.
The use of disinfectant bleach for cleaning has also harmed the facility. Some areas lacked drainage holes and standing water further corroded the structure. In at least four spots, bolts were missing. Also, caulking was insufficient to hold back water in certain areas, according to the report.
Rather than tackling the fixes all at once, which would interrupt football practices and games, UCF is likely to undertake repairs during the off-season months of February through July, the report shows. That could take two to four years, depending on how much the school spends and whether the stadium life extends another 10 years or 20 years.
The school ramped up repairs on “life-safety” hot spots two months ago but this week did not specify the areas that were fixed.
The structure was built with affordability in mind. UCF had earlier estimated a football stadium would cost more than $100 million but came back with plans for one that was about half the cost, in 2005, when UCF President John C. Hitt said he was “incredulous that it could be done for that money.” A prefabricated system with more steel and less concrete enabled the savings.
Skeptics in the stadium-construction business, including Lee Slade, chairman of a Houston group that has designed sports facilities worldwide including Amway Center, Citrus Bowl renovations and Daytona Rising. At the time, Slade said UCF was investing only enough to expect something along the lines of a highschool stadium or the old Citrus Bowl.
“Owners need to understand what they are buying so that their budgets and expectations are aligned,” Slade said this week. “This applies to all buildings … but it is particularly important for structures that are exposed to the elements like a stadium or parking structure and can be especially difficult to achieve for a major onetime investment like a stadium.”
Rust problems became
“Owners need to understand what they are buying so that their budgets and expectations are aligned.”
Lee Slade, chairman of a group that has designed sports facilities worldwide
public last month when UCF filed a construction-defects lawsuit against parties including 360 Architecture — FL Inc., Harris Civil Engineering, Engineering Technologies Corp., Universal Engineering Services Inc. and engineer Fred Schmalzer. In its lawsuit, UCF has cited contractors, engineers and designers for failure to comply with building codes, construction plans. design documents and industry standards of “good workmanship.”
Of 1,600 corrosion “hot spots” that were identified in the August report, more than 200 were severe enough to need “immediate repair to prevent structural damage,” the report stated. Rust was visible in 5.5 percent of the tested areas and underlying problems were evident, engineers found.
Stairway supports, beams, and braces are heavily corroded and show a “significant loss of metal section thickness,” the engineering report states.
“Existing stairs provide several challenges due to their advanced stages of corrosion,” reads the report. “Stairs need significant remediation that may include repair and/or replacement ...”
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UCF officials say they have fixed the worst problems with the decade-old football stadium and are weighing long-term plans. Corrosion affects more than 80,000 square feet, according to a report.
TLC Engineering documented rust and corrosion issues throughout UCF’s stadium.
According to a 455-page report, UCF’s football stadium has become so rusted that an overhaul could cost about a quarter of the stadium’s $54 million cost. The school sued contractors and architects who built the stadium.