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Coliseum Panel May Sue FEMA Over $99.5-Million Repair Tab

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Earthquake repair costs at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will reach $99.5 million, and the Coliseum Commission may have to sue the Federal Emergency Management Agency to recover some of that money, stadium officials said Wednesday.

The panel went into closed session to discuss the possible suit after its repair project director, Don C. Webb, reported that he had been discussing a federal audit of the repairs with government officials and believed that negotiations might bring the parties closer together.

With the new press box going in and scheduled to become operational before the start of the USC football season, the repair project is reaching its end. But the work will end up costing nearly three times the original $35-million estimate Webb made after the 1994 quake.

Webb has explained that seismic reinforcing work led to most of the additional expense and that not all of the damage was evident until excavation began.

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One expense that FEMA officials have said they are questioning is the addition of more seismic reinforcing than was required for the present use of the stadium. The work was intended to provide underpinning for the luxury boxes the commission hopes to build.

FEMA has paid $80.5 million for Coliseum work, Webb said, and all bills received total $92.8 million. Meanwhile, he added, the state of California, which is mandated to pay 10% of eligible repair costs while FEMA pays 90%, has paid none of the $7.1 million it has acknowledged owing.

Money the state has contributed to other quake repairs has generally been borrowed from FEMA. State officials have said the state’s portion will eventually be paid.


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