The firm hired by Tom Hicks to produce drawings of the Liverpool Football Club’s possible new stadium are under scrutiny in the USA now after a stadium they were renovating partially collapsed. HKS are based in Texas like Hicks and were working on the construction of a new structure to provide extra seating at the Texas Christian University’s Amon G Carter football stadium.
The structure collapsed onto existing seating below in the early hours of the morning and thankfully, with the stadium deserted, nobody was hurt. The construction on the £7m project was scheduled for completion in the summer, to add extra seating to the south end zone of the ground.
Liverpool’s potential stadium on Stanley Park was already delayed from a 2006 opening when Hicks ordered a redesign a year ago because he didn’t like it. The new design would have cost £400m and was planned to open in 2010, but then Hicks realised that finance was proving difficult to obtain, even just to cover what he’d borrowed to buy the club. So the plans were no longer affordable for the Texan millionaire who never intended spending any of his own money on his “investment”. In Rick Parry’s words, the plans would have to be “downgraded”, and the stadium has now been delayed until at least 2011.
HKS and a UK firm – AFL – were asked to find ways of producing the stadium at a lower budget, cutting corners or removing the bells and whistles until it came in at a more affordable £300m. HKS won this little battle and their revised plans were unveiled without any fanfare earlier in the year. Cosmetically the stadium looks very similar, which does beg the question – how did they manage to save £100m of the costs? What corners did they actually cut?
Nothing has been revealed as to how costs were actually saved, and with the stadium still requiring planning consent due to the increased capacity from that approved and also possibly due to the changes in the look of the building, there’s no saying it will go ahead according to those latest drawings. With DIC closing in on their takeover attempts, we may yet see another version of plans being drawn up before the building work finally commences.
HKS have launched an enquiry into the collapse, at the home ground of “The Horned Frogs”, and Texas Christian University are also planning to hire their own engineers to investigate the structural and design flaws that resulted in the collapse.
The work on these improvements began last summer and was due to be completed this summer, but that’s now looking unlikely given the nature of the collapse.
The results of those investigations are important too – clearly if it happened to the structure because it was still in the process of being constructed then at least one safety concern is addressed, but until an investigation proves that then the main concern is whether the structure would have been at risk of collapse after completion. This work is tiny when compared to the $600m work on the new stadium to replace Anfield, and a collapse there would be of course much more significant.