Nearly a year into job, Marlins stadium on time and budget
By Risa Polansky
Last major building permit in hand, construction continues on time and on budget at the new Marlins ballpark site in Little Havana, with nearly one year down and two to go, a newly released county report says.
The guaranteed maximum price for construction, finalized last month at just more than $422 million, is actually about $3 million lower than the estimated budget, which planned for $425.5 million, Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess wrote in a progress report last week.
But that doesn't translate to direct savings on the project.
Contract terms require extra money be used to restore elements nixed during design and budgeting, and to beef up project reserves.
"Savings will be used in two primary ways: building several enhancements that were removed during design in order to save money, and adding to the contingency fund that can be used to offset future unforeseen conditions or add additional scope to the project," Mr. Burgess wrote, predicting little risk for major cost overruns at this stage in the game.
"Because approximately 80% of the bid packages on the ballpark are already complete, we consider the risk of significant cost overruns to be minimal."
The ballpark is to cost about $3 billion over the coming decades, including interest.
The construction budget covering hard and soft costs is about $515 million, plus about $23 million in public infrastructure work.
The first phase of land development and construction on the 37,000-capacity, retractable-roof stadium began in July at the site of the old Orange Bowl.
Opening Day is set for 2012.
"Progress at Miami-Dade County's new ballpark is visible to everyone who passes the site; the aggressive pace and high quality of progress is obvious to both experts and casual observers," Mr. Burgess wrote.
This month, the City of Miami issued the "final main building permit for the ballpark," he wrote, calling the progress "a major milestone for this project."
The project is being built in three phases.
"Today the structural foundations and super-columns are substantially completed," the report says. "Phase two, which includes the ballpark concrete structure, is progressing at an aggressive pace. Phase three includes the balance of the construction, including the retractable and fixed portions of the roof, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection systems and architectural finishes."
The newly issued permit is for the third and last phase.
"The phase three permit package is the final main building permit for the ballpark. During this quarter, considerable phase three permitting work and coordination has taken place among the County, the City and the stadium developer," Mr. Burgess wrote, with the permit for permit package three issued May 5.
A key feature of the ballpark is a planned retractable roof, which is to be "erected and staged from a work platform directly adjacent to the ballpark structure," the report says.
To keep pace to build the roof on time, contractor Hunt/Moss has been focusing on completing the concrete structure on the west side of the ballpark.
"As a result, the west side of the ballpark has advanced significantly during this quarter," Mr. Burgess wrote.
On the north side, roof support track beams are complete, and work on the mezzanine, main concourse and club-levels deck continues.
On the east, concrete has been poured for the mezzanine and main concourse levels, with underground electrical and plumbing work nearly complete, the report says.
To the south, with roof support track beams complete, "the concrete structure is progressing at a fast pace," Mr. Burgess wrote.
Decks have been poured at the mezzanine level, and columns and shoring for the main concourse are progressing.
The City of Miami is expected to go out to bond for its part of the project — four parking garages and six lots at a construction cost of $75 million — May 24, the report says.
Also on track is local hiring.
Under the stadium deal, local lawmakers ask that 50% of workers on the construction job be Miami-Dade residents, and that 20% of those be Miamians.
The numbers are only aspirations, as requiring hiring percentages could lead to legal challenges.
But so far they're being exceeded, the most recent report says.
As of March, 61% of workers came from within the county and 32% from the city.
And, 97 firms on the job — 57% — are local, the report says.
Also taking shape is the public art that's to be incorporated into the ballpark project.
The county is wrapping up contracts with three commissioned artists.
Red Grooms is to create a "signature homerun feature consisting of bright colors, stylized water, lots of moving parts and spectacular lasers," Mr. Burgess wrote in the report. "Dotted with clouds, pelicans and seagulls, the design will feature at least one jumping marlin that will activate when the Marlins score a homerun."
Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez is working on a series of paving designs.
And Miami native Daniel Arsham "as a tribute to the Orange Bowl Stadium… will replicate the lettering on the former football stadium, which will appear as if they fell off the side of the old Orange Bowl Stadium and embedded themselves on the east plaza of the plaza of the new ballpark," the report says.
Overall, "in almost every measurable way, the ballpark project is exceeding its design specifications and its broader aspirations," Mr. Burgess wrote. "Financially it is below budget, providing additional cushion for unexpected developments and, ultimately, the enhancements that will make our ballpark even more of a landmark within both South Florida and the world of professional baseball."
Updates on the stadium project are due quarterly, he wrote, though they "will always be supplemented as necessary with information about urgent matters."