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Cracks Found In New Marlins Ballpark Garages, Repairs To Delay Completion

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(Source: CBS4)

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Marlins Stadium Construction (3/25/11)

LITTLE HAVANA (CBS4)- Hundreds of hairline cracks have appeared on support beams along exterior walls of Miami’s four parking garages at the new Little Havana ballpark for the Marlins.

Officials said the cracks will be repaired in time for the garages to be in use for the team’s season opener in April 2012.

The two-foot cracks have been found on the inside of the outer walls of the structures, and developed because the support beams there are tied into the exterior walls on only one of their two sides, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.

“They miscalculated some of the load,” Robert Fenton, the city’s project manager, said Friday.

Fenton was referring to the Leo A Daly Co., the Omaha, Neb.-based international architecture firm that the city hired to design the five- and six-story structures that will provide two million square feet for 5,000 cars and a host of retailers.

Alice Bravo, Miami’s director of capital improvements, said Leo A Daly has “accepted responsibility” for the error and has agreed to cover the repair cost, which could amount to $1 million.

Abdel Martel, Daly’s vice president and director of operations, agreed Friday his firm was responsible for the repairs, but said the design work at issue had been carried out by a subcontractor, the Herald reported.

The city is paying about $75 million to build the garages.

According to the Miami Herald, the cracks were discovered in March by a building inspector hired by the city. Officials of the city and the design firm have spent the past three months evaluating the problem. Fenton estimated the repairs will take a team of 8 to 10 workers from four to six weeks for each building, which will delay completion of the garages until December, further tightening an ever-shrinking construction window.

Slideshow: Marlins Stadium Construction

The city is contractually obligated to have the garages in place a month before play begins next April at the shiny, glass-encased new stadium at the former Orange Bowl site. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said Thursday the cracks “won’t threaten opening day.”

“We have no concerns whatsoever,” Marlins spokesman P.J. Loyello said Friday.

Fixing the cracks will require boring into the concrete, inserting new steel rebar rods, and pouring more concrete into the holes for added support. The fix also requires a square block of concrete that will extend a few inches from where the cracks are on the exterior walls.

Bravo and Fenton say the cracks pose no danger, and the concern is that water may seep into them and, in time, soften the concrete, eventually shortening the lifespan of the garages from their expected 50 to 75 years.

John Pistorino, of Pistorino & Alem Consulting Engineers, said that without seeing the plans or the cracks, it was difficult for him to comment on the problem. But it appears, he said, the city is trying to protect the structure from a long-term problem known as spalling, which occurs when water creeps in and causes the rebar to rust and expand, further cracking the concrete and destabilizing it. Spalling usually doesn’t occur for many years.

“It’s a pretty common concern in the industry,” said Pistorino, whose firm is now building a Metrorail extension near Miami International Airport. “It takes some time for that to happen, though. They’re trying to avoid it.”

Fenton, the city’s project manager, said spalling is commonly seen on eroding balconies on Miami Beach condos, where the salt also eats away at the structure. “It’s not an immediate concern. But if we’re not to address the cracks, that’s where the lifespan [of the garages] comes into play.”

Building $75 million worth of parking facilities is part of Miami’s contribution to the $615 million, 37,000-seat, retractable-roof complex. The city will put another $25 million into construction and utility repairs. The ballpark is being built with a combination of $359 million in tourist taxes and bond money from Miami-Dade County, and $155 million from Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who will borrow $35 million of that from the county, the Herald reported.

The county will own the stadium. The Marlins’ roughly $2 million a year lease payments will be applied against its debt to the county.

The Marlins — who have already lost 20 games this month heading into Friday night’s game in Seattle, and chronically struggle to attract fans — say they need the new facility to remain viable. However, leaked private financial statements show the team has been the most profitable in baseball the past few years.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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