13 Investigates: Lucas Oil Stadium working on repairs

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Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Work is underway at Lucas Oil Stadium to replace rusting water pipes at the two-and-a-half-year-old venue. As Eyewitness News first reported in January, the problem was discovered after a pipe began leaking in the employee lounge.

Wednesday afternoon, John Klipsch, executive director of the Indiana Stadium and Convention Center Building Authority said, "We know we've got it under control and will get it fixed."

Klipsch took reporters on a tour, starting on the Terrace Level where a half-dozen workers were removing galvanized steel pipes segment by segment. The pipes, which carry water to restrooms, drinking fountains and concessions, account for five to six percent of all pipes in the stadium. All will be replaced with stainless steel and copper ones.

Klipsch said they're still not sure why the galvanized pipes began corroding prematurely.

He said experts "pointed to a manufacturing problem with the galvanized pipe, possibly the installation of the pipes or maybe design issues, too."

Asked if the problems could have resulted from efforts to get the fast-track job done quickly or from low bidding, Klipsch said he didn't know.

The pipes were installed by Frank E. Irish, which went out business in May 2008 after filing for bankruptcy. That was before the stadium was finished. General Piping finished the work and is now doing repairs.

Klipsch pointed to uncapped pipe in the mechanical room, noting it wasn't the exterior rust creating problems, but the rust and corrosion lining the inside.

"There's been minimum leakage but there's been significant blockage in the valves," he said noting the rust "just keeps clogging it up."

That's why they've been running 7 to 14 million gallons of water a month through the stadium since August, as much as seven times the normal amount.

"That's a lot of water, but it's a big building," he said. "The experts say just run it through to minimize the effects of the rust and corrosion."

He called that a "temporary fix" to get them through the football season and into the "slow season," when there were fewer events at the stadium.

Five events were either moved or cancelled to accommodate the work. The Fire Department Instructors Conference, which starts next week, will go as planned, with workers taking a break and resuming once the conference ends.

Klipsch said health and safety concerns haven't been an issue.

"We have experts testing for rust and corrosion and typical issues like e.Coli and bacteria," he said.

When asked how often they test, he said, "We've been doing it on a regular basis." However, he would not specify how often the water was tested, repeating that it was "on a regular basis. It's gotten a clean bill of health. I'd drink it today."

The repairs are expected to run upwards of $2 million. Even though contractor Frank Irish went bankrupt, Klipsch insists taxpayers won't pay a dime more to have the problems fixed.

"All expenses on this project are part of the insurance claim," he said. "We're confident everything will be covered by the insurance or bonding companies."

He said that included the nearly $100,000 more in water costs.

He also said the initial costs would be covered by money in the "contingency fund," which has money leftover from the Convention Center expansion coming in under budget.

Work on the pipes is expected to continue through July. None of the stadium's 64 full-time employees are expected to be effected by the work.