Inside sources, workers on the Allegient Stadium project, contacted me, Zennie Abraham of Zennie62Media, to explain the real story of and confirming rumors about “bad bolts” being used in the construction of the Las Vegas Stadium roof structure.
The truth is far more alarming than the rumors. The basic concern is that the Las Vegas Stadium roof structure bolts may be of substandard manufacture. Not changing the bolts could cause part of the roof to collapse, injuring thousands of people if it happens during an event and if either sound vibration or temperature-induced steel frame contractions occur – and both are normal occurrences in the life of an NFL stadium. (Also read Zennie62Media’s coverage of The Insight Terminal Solutions Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal Project Issue.)
And what is the Las Vegas Stadium roof structure comprised of? According to Arup, a roof subcontractor on the Las Vegas Stadium Project “The main components of the stadium comprise the seating bowl and roof structure. The seating bowl contains two concrete levels, a steel framed bowl structure and reinforced concrete cores as the lateral system. The roof structure comprises a diagonally braced steel perimeter vessel structure, cantilever steel trusses, a steel compression ring and a central two way cable truss.” The problem rests with the steel compression ring, according to my sources.
The Las Vegas Stadium roof structure and its steel compression ring is best described as modeled after that used to build the roof of the 52,500-seat Stadio della Roma stadium that is home to the A.S. Roma football team. Thornton Tomasetti, which provided detailed design of the facility, explained here that “The Stadio della Roma’s roof is based on the principle of a bicycle wheel. A compression ring on the outer edge is connected by radial cable trusses to two sets (upper and lower) of tension rings that surround the inner opening. The “bicycle wheel” solution is much lighter and more elegant than a traditional steel-truss system.”
Oakland Raiders Chief Operating Officer Don Webb told the Las Vegas Review Journal that he…
“expects the cables to be attached along the top rim of the roof — a process called “pinning” — by the middle of November. The final pinning of cables along the top of the roof may be the most challenging work to date because the cables, manufactured in Switzerland, must be stretched to reach across the stadium’s top opening and were manufactured to within seven-eighths of an inch of specifications.
Workers with the Mortenson-McCarthy Joint Venture have been preparing for this month’s cable lift since August, placing the network of custom-built stainless steel cables 2½ to 3 inches in diameter with some as long as 800 feet on the floor of the stadium and attaching them with guide wires to a series of nodes ringing the top level of the stadium. The cables are to be raised more than 200 feet above the football field. One cable can weigh up to 24 tons, depending on its length. The crosshatch pattern of cables will form a durable support system for a roof made of fluorine-based plastic known as ETFE — short for ethylene tetrafluoroethylene.
According to my sources, the problem rests in the area of the “nodes ringing the top level of the stadium” – the nodes are attached to the compression ring. It was explained to me that “The node is a multiple point where the roof cables attach to it. Each point has multiple cables on that node. It’s a half a circle elongated, a long U – 12 inches long. At the circle end of the U, go in and there’s a circle inside the U.”
The on site Las Vegas Stadium workers have said that they believe it’s that “U” – that’s where the bad bolts are used and fractures are happening due to bad welds. My source believe that is where the bad welds were happening. There’s not 100 percent confirmation by my sources on the weld issue, but they do say that there are “bad bolts and bad welds, and that’s a bad combination.” (Update from the sources: the compression ring bolts failed – not the node attached to it.) Others said that the bad bolts are a problem, but not sure that the fractured welds at the cable connection are a widespread problem. But if they are, that’s a real bad problem. All critical welds are supposed to be inspected at the shop prior to delivery.”
Reportedly from my insider sources, an employee of the company that was hired as a subcontractor to the builder Mortenson McCarthy, and called Freyssinet, refused to test the bolts that were installed and make up the “compression ring” connections that makes up the outer rim of the stadium at its highest point. “So, there is employed as ironworkers a group that works for Derr & Isbell, the main on site erector of the structural steel. Because Derr & Isbell, at a certain point when they started the cables, started downsizing the workforce,” according to one of my worker sources.
Another source said this: “Some of those workers jumped to Freyssinet and that’s when they brought to our attention that bolts had been breaking. And bolts had been breaking at other spots on the stadium project.” Freyssinet was not required to re-test the bolts, so my sources don’t want to blame them, but they assert that due to the fear of pissing off Mortenson McCarthy and delaying the job, Freyssinet representatives reportedly said “We’re not going to worry about it.” That said, another source said that Mortenson McCarthy did know: “Believe me, it got to them.”
And in this update, this email was sent approximately one hour ago, at 6:29 PM CST, on this December 3rd, 2019, day: (The name was withheld upon request to this blogger.)
I read your recently published article in regards to bolts in the roof structure. However, there far more bolt issues in the truss columns as well.
I was an foreman on that sight…
Glad to see this come to light.
Can explain more if needed later.
Anyone tell you about the hydraulic crane that flipped over inside the bowl? That Reliable Crane cut it up in pieces and hauled it away the same night….never reporting it to OSHA?
The crane flipped over in July during night shift operations. A “oiler” (operator in training) was practicing inside the bowl area without having his outriggers placed properly and turned over the 65t RT crane. The oiler was not injured but Reliable Crane Service who owned the crane came in immediately after the incident. They cut the crane into pieces and hauled it away before dayshift arrived. Mortenson/McCarthy were aware of the incident and swept it under the rug.
As far as the bolt issue, i over saw a detail crew of ironworkers responsible for the install and torque of structural bolts. During the torque process bolts were breaking in half. We were told to replace them and hide the bad bolts.
In fairness to Mortenson – McCarthy, every stadium construction site has its share of mishaps. The effort here isn’t to develop a list and hold out the idea that Mortenson – McCarthy isn’t running a job site that’s not safe for the workers – not at all. That said, it would be dishonest to the intent of this effort to leave out part of a worker’s story. The claims regarding the bolts and their condition are not so much “worker safety issues,” as they are structural integrity issues – much more important, considering Las Vegas Stadium is expected to host as many as 72,000 people at once for a Super Bowl Game.
The Role Of Freyssinet In Las Vegas Stadium Roof Construction
Indeed, according to its online brochure for 2018, Freyssinet was signed to work on the roof of what is now called Allegiant Stadium, writing “We also signed major contracts, including the Las Vegas Stadium roof in the United States.”
And, the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, which owns Las Vegas Stadium, identified the firm as “Freyssinet the cable-net roof system contractor”
My sources explained that the bolts that are used to tie the compression ring are substandard and the reason is that Freyssinet (where Freyssinet Canada was the subcontractor responsible for the Las Vegas Stadium roof construction) is responding to pressure by the main contractor Mortenson McCarthy to build Las Vegas Stadium fast, and under a tight time frame. Indeed, an online document by another Las Vegas Stadium subcontractor, Arup, reflects and confirms that claim. In its update, the Arup firm explains…
“A hallmark project for the state of Nevada and the Raiders, Allegiant Stadium will feature 65,000 seats, a movable field, a retractable north façade wall and a translucent cable-truss supported roof. Sharing the project team’s common objective of expediting the construction timeline, Arup conceptualized and implemented flexible design features, such as the adjustable structural connection at the cable-truss to compression ring interface, to align with the construction schedule. The Design-Build team embraced a collaborative review approach with the Clark County Department of Building and Fire Prevention to achieve the project’s phased permit goals in alignment with fast-track construction goals. One of the major innovative elements that Arup incorporated into the project is the intricately designed cable truss roof. A departure from the classical structural engineering solution, the lightweight cable-truss connection to the structural steel provides a significantly increased construction tolerance during the big-lift of the cables requiring high-geometric precision.”
Workers are passing around a message that goes something like this: “I have a feeling all the boomers will be getting laid off. They reported to the Stadium Authority Board that everything in the critical path is on schedule and proceeding as planned. That was in the RJ (Review Journal) Wednesday. Then, yesterday morning, on the Channel 3 News, they ran a story saying the roof was going to be completed in April. If that’s the case, we could be looking at a delay of possibly to the end of January that would put us 12 weeks to the end of April.” Reportedly, Mortenson McCarthy has “gone silent” on talk of proceeding with the work. The firm is said to possible be “going through all compression ring connections and replacing and retorqueing at this point. That is the only way they can be sure that all bolts are torqued correctly.”
The ironworkers don’t know if it was the manufacturer at this point, but bolts were snapping around the stadium prior to the ring bolt problem of now, over the summer. One of my sources said “Guys from Derr & Isbell were bringing it up, and were upset about it.” “Let’s not have another New Orleans Hotel collapse,” said another one of my sources.
Taking Las Vegas Stadium Construction Processes Out Of Sequence To Meet A Deadline Caused Problems
And regarding the plan of taking stadium construction process activities out of sequence in an effort to meet the opening date deadline, another source said this to me: “Everything was supposed to be done 100 percent before cables were pulled. Everything was to be done and signed off on – the main structure, steel, nodes – all 100 percent done before they started putting weight on the cables. (Instead) They were still inspecting nodes and pulling on cables – if one wasn’t ready, they’d go on to the next node.” (And this update from the sources: what should have been done before the cable net lifting and attaching process was 1, complete erection of main structural members and tie-in members, 2, all bolts needed to be installed and inspected, 3, all main structural members should be complete and that includes everything attached to the compression ring.)
In other words, the idea of taking Las Vegas stadium construction process activities out of sequence in an effort to meet the opening date deadline might have sounded like a good idea to the lay person and the Oakland Raiders fan, but it’s a bad idea if one’s trying to build a stadium correctly. In this case, you run the risk of putting weight on stadium roof cables that may not be fully ready to handle it.
If you go back to past videos of the inside of the Oakland Raiders Las Vegas stadium and the cable roof on the floor, you may remember times when it looked like the cable net was being raised in an uneven fashion. Well, I learned from my sources that practice was a no-no, but it was done anyway, and all in an effort to hurry up and finish the Allegiant Stadium project.
Don Webb Responds To This Blog Post Via The Review Journal, Confirms Worker Claims
In this update, Oakland Raiders Chief Operating Officer Don Webb responded to this blog post via the Las Vegas Review Journal. However, whistleblower workers claim Webb confirmed their concerns that “They were still inspecting nodes and pulling on cables – if one wasn’t ready, they’d go on to the next node” and thus causing more stress on the cables!
This is what Webb and the Review Journal (the “stadium good news” issuer on behalf of the Oakland Raiders) reportedly said:
Grand Canyon Development Partners, a project monitor hired by the authority to oversee work by the contractor on its behalf, briefed the board on the interruption of the cable lift and the rescheduling of work as a result of “overstressing of the structural members.” Grand Canyon concluded that the delay and resequencing of work “should not negatively affect the overall completion schedule.”
Well, as it happens the “overstressing of the structural members” occurred because, as the workers reported “They were still inspecting nodes and pulling on cables – if one wasn’t ready, they’d go on to the next node” and thus causing more stress on the cables.
Don Webb and the Las Vegas Review Journal just admitted there was a problem. The night-time cable-pulling came out of an overall desire to meet a hugely aggressive stadium completion deadline. That has caused the stadium construction managers to take a number of risks that workers and this blogger have questioned.
Thanks To The Whistleblower Workers On Las Vegas Stadium
In closing, I wish to thank those who work on the stadium project for taking the risk to contact me at Zennie62Media, and very much to the surprise of this video-blogger. Please understand that these workers want the stadium to be built well, and fear that something bad could happen if corners continue to be cut. This should not be considered a post against the project – quite the contrary. Las Vegas needs this large scale events center. If anyone else working on the project has additional information, please email me at [email protected]
Additionally, I credit Citizen Journalist Tina Quizon for first bringing this to the collective attention of the public. A large number of people doubted her, and for the wrong set of reasons, but at the end of the day, she was totally correct. Addressing these issue the workers talked to me about saves lives and assures that Allegiant Stadium will be properly built and without mishaps after opening day – whenever that is. The Oakland Raiders and Clark County, Nevada should be concerned with opening Las Vegas Stadium only when it’s truly ready, and not for a July 31, 2020 date that’s the workers feel is unrealistic given the problems that exist to be solved.
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Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media