The cracked walls and sinking foundation at the $8.7 million basketball arena that opened in 2008 at the Jefferson Parish-controlled Alario Center near Westwego may soon be repaired.
The Jefferson Parish Council — which manages the Alario Center — and the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, the state body that owns the land where the facility sits, have both decided to settle a lawsuit against the various contractors involved in erecting the building, which once housed practice space and administrative offices for the New Orleans Pelicans when they were still the Hornets.
Ben Hunter, an attorney for the stadium district — also known as the Superdome Commission — said the settlement is still being finalized, and no specific dollar figure was available.
But the deal will result in repairs for the basketball arena that will “ensure that the facility can continue to be used at a high level,” Hunter said.
A separate lawsuit brought by the parish and the LSED against contractors involved in building a $1.4 million kitchen that opened at the Alario Center in 2007 remains ongoing, Assistant Jefferson Parish Attorney Reed Smith said. The kitchen suit similarly cites cracked walls and a sinking foundation, among other problems.
The basketball arena, known as Hall C, is where the Hornets held a couple of training camps before Saints owner Tom Benson bought them, renamed them the Pelicans and relocated their headquarters to Metairie.
The arena experienced its first high-profile trouble when humidity from its heating and cooling system damaged the hardwood practice floor and disrupted the Hornets’ training camp in 2008.
Then, in mid-2012, Alario Center officials discovered a horizontal crack at the base of a wall that kept growing, according to an affidavit filed in court. Various other cracks were subsequently discovered throughout the arena.
Both the parish and the LSED filed a lawsuit in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna in 2013 alleging that poor designs were to blame for a building foundation that “has sunk and continues to sink.”
Defendants included N-Y Associates Inc., Hall C’s architects; Soil Testing Engineers Inc., which prepared a report used to design the building’s support pilings and foundation; and Meyer Engineers and Infinity Engineering Consultants, which designed the pilings and foundation.
The Parish Council voted unanimously Oct. 7 to settle with all the defendants. The LSED did the same at a meeting Wednesday.
Neither Smith nor Hunter could say when the kitchen lawsuit might be resolved. That case includes allegations that — aside from cracks — a sinking foundation has caused ceiling tiles to pop loose and doors to no longer fit in their frames.
Meyer Engineers is also a defendant in the kitchen case, along with other contractors not involved in the Hall C suit.