Repairs on the Walter Pyramid roof to cost $55 million

The city of Long Beach has experienced rain in the last two months that has caused the roof of the Walter Pyramid to leak and would cost $55 million to repair.

“In 2021, we performed a feasibility study to understand the cost to replace the roof in its entirety as well as other related deferred maintenance items and the estimated cost came to over $55 million,” said Joshua Cichuniec, the director of facilities management for Beach Building Services.

Because The Walter Pyramid was built in 1994 and is approaching its 30th anniversary, Cichuniec said, “Many of the original building systems are coming to the end of their useful life.”

The Walter Pyramid, along with being an indoor sports venue, is tied to the university’s identity with logos, t-shirts and the word “Beach” all associated with the shape of the Pyramid.

The pyramid, designed by Don Gibbs and built by the Nielson Construction Company of San Diego, cost $22 million to build.

While recent construction work did not affect the water leak, the roof structure of the Pyramid is much more sensitive during inclement weather, causing movement of the sheeting on the roof.

“This movement, mixed with the age of the materials, has potential leak points where each screw is attached and where seams come together,” said Cichuniec.

Since 2018, Long Beach State has invested over $670,000 in repairs for the roof, in particular filling in screw holes and replacing sealant, according to Cichuniec.

Cichuniec said that Beach Building Services has ongoing and planned repairs to eliminate leaks in the Pyramid scheduled for the next few months barring more inclement weather that would deter them.

Further compounding the Pyramid roof issues were LBSU basketball and volleyball games scheduled in January and February, where a steady flow of rain was predicted.

The women’s basketball team had a game Jan. 14 against the University of Hawaii at 3 p.m. and was delayed while the LBSU staff tried their best to stop the leaks.

The athletics department hurried to place tarps, trash cans and a kids swimming pool throughout the arena to mitigate the water coming in from the roof.

Mike Habura, the associate athletic director of facilities and event operations, said they were out of options to play in the Pyramid when the leak reached the middle of the court.

The athletic department quickly got the message out about the change in arenas through social media along with staff at the facility letting those in attendance know the game had changed locations, the first time in school history they had to move.

After an hour-long delay, the women’s basketball and men’s volleyball teams eventually moved to the Gold Mine for the day, the former home of the school’s basketball and volleyball teams prior to the opening of The Walter Pyramid.

Part of the delay stemmed from the fact the Gold Mine court did not meet NCAA measurements where the restricted arc underneath each basket increased from three feet to four feet.

When the team moved to the arena that day, the courts were not adequate to playing standards. The athletics department then made the necessary changes within that hour to outfit the facility with the proper equipment for future games played.

The men’s basketball team had a game against Cal State Northridge Feb. 25 and on the morning of the LBSU athletics department sent out email messages to students and posted on the athletics website that the game was officially moved to the Gold Mine at 4 p.m.

Recently, Interim Executive Director of Athletics Ted Kadowaki has looked to increase the mandatory Instructionally Related Activities Fee by $64 starting fall 2023 to stabilize the athletics department’s huge deficit.

Part of the fees will go to fix the roof of the Pyramid, with Kadowaki noting that it’s a major issue that needs to be addressed with the passing of the activities fee.

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