Since the start of the year, heavy downpour has forced Long Beach State to move basketball games from its iconic blue Walter Pyramid twice. Patchwork is ongoing, but a full repair could cost an estimated $55 million, the Daily 49er first reported.

There is no funding for a full overhaul of the roof at the moment, but Cal State Long Beach has spent some $700,000 on localized repairs and patchwork since 2018, Roger Kirk, associate athletics director, told the Long Beach Post on Wednesday.

“There’s, you know, certainly hope to do the future full retrofit, but that requires some additional funding that we don’t have currently,” Kirk said.

The Pyramid was built by Long Beach architect Don Gibbs in 1994 for $22 million. As it approaches 30 years in operation, “many of the original building systems are coming to the end of their useful life,” said Josh Cichuniec, director of facilities management for Beach Building Services.

Over the years, the roof’s metal cladding has become vulnerable to thermal expansion and contractions in response to dramatic changes in temperature.

“This movement, mixed with the age of the materials, has caused thousands of potential leak points where each screw is attached and where every seam comes together,” Cichuniec said.

Paul Kopfstein of Long Beach Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) 6, climbs up the Walter Pyramid during The READY Long Beach 2018 Emergency Preparedness Expo at Cal State Long Beach in Long Beach, Ca., September 15, 2018. Photo by John Valenzuela.

There is no timeline for the full replacement of the roof, but campus officials will continue ongoing repairs to keep games and activities going in the Pyramid until funding is secured for the full $55 million repair job.

“Leaks have been a challenge for the facility for the past several years,” Cichuniec said.

Ahead of forecasted storms in an abnormally wet season, Kirk says staff have been working hard to ensure that rainwater doesn’t damage the floor in the gym by laying down tarps.

More rain is expected in Long Beach on Friday, but no games are scheduled that day, and Kirk said he doesn’t anticipate having to move any upcoming games. In total, two games this year and one game last year have been moved to the school’s original gym, the Gold Mine, which was built in the 1950s.

“It’s only when we have extremely heavy rain that it causes problems,” Kirk said.

On Jan. 14, heavy downpour prompted athletics officials to move Long Beach State’s women’s basketball game against the University of Hawaii to the Gold Mine.

That day, staff gathered trash cans, a kid-sized swimming pool and tarps to catch the rainfall in the gym as water seeped in from the slanted roof, The 562 reported.

Another storm foiled plans to play the Pyramid on Feb. 25, when the men’s basketball team’s game against Cal State Northridge was moved to the Gold Mine.

To stabilize the financial future of the athletics department, the campus is weighing a $64 rise of its mandatory Instructionally Related Activities Fee. If approved, the fee would incur each semester, beginning in the fall. Currently, the IRA fee for a full time student is $25.

Interim Executive Director of Athletics Ted Kadowaki confirmed with the Post that revenue from the fee would not go toward repairs to the roof. Instead that the vast majority of that funding would go toward “rising operating costs” of the school’s 19 teams.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with Kadowaki’s confirmation that a rise in student fees would not go toward fixing the roof of the Walter Pyramid. 

Kat Schuster is the editor at the Long Beach Post and the author of Off the Clock, a weekly newsletter. You can reach her at [email protected].