With 85% of interior walls up, Marlins stadium still on time
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
Despite a recent failed attempt by the Miami-Dade commission to reopen contractual agreements for the $515 million Marlins stadium, construction is moving fast, with the team set to play its first home game of 2012 at the new home.
The 37,000-capacity baseball stadium is rising on 42 acres, formerly home of the Orange Bowl, in Miami's Little Havana. The project, now 19 months into construction, is on track, with about 85% of the interior walls built, the retractable roof's installation underway and seats starting to go in this week.
The stadium's construction, led by Hunt/Moss in a joint venture, is scheduled to finish by January or February of next year, as the team is slated to play its 2012 season that begins in April at the new ballpark, county officials said Tuesday.
"We said from the onset we were comfortable with the cost estimate, comfortable that a project of that scope could be built with the budget…," said Miami-Dade Manager George Burgess. "We're seeing the project coming in on schedule and under budget."
Mr. Burgess said he couldn't specify how much under budget until the project is completed because things could change.
"We are certainly at budget. If we come a little bit under that's great," he said. "We would reserve that as capital funding."
On Nov. 4, the county commission, which in its majority voted to approve the ballpark deal, asked the county administration to re-open stadium contract terms.
But on Feb. 7, Mr. Burgess informed county and Miami officials in a memorandum that the Florida Marlins declined to re-open the agreements.
In this three-way public-private partnership, Miami-Dade is to contribute $347.5 million to the $515 million project, $154 million is coming from the Marlins, and Miami is to put $13.5 million plus funding the construction of four parking garages and six surface lots, according to construction agreements. The city's total cost is estimated at $101.4 million.
Stadium construction is progressing.
Erection of the retractable roof, consisting of east, center and west panels, has begun, according to a February construction update. The goal is to finish the roof by mid-summer, said José Galan of the county's Office of Capital Improvements.
About 85% of the interior walls at all levels have been built and the cosmetic finishes are to continue throughout this year.
Over 90% of the bid packages for stadium construction have been awarded, Mr. Galan said, with a few to go, including the contract for the television system inside the ballpark.
Mr. Burgess said he is cautiously optimistic about the project staying on budget.
"It's not over until it's over. But as of today, we continue to see things that make us feel comfortable with the progress of the project," Mr. Burgess said. "Most of the work has been awarded on a guaranteed maximum price…"
Another milestone in this massive project was reached this week, with installation of stadium seats beginning on section 1, the report says.
Several Marlins players held a symbolic batting practice on the site of the future field Tuesday to mark the start of putting in the seats. The Marlins currently play at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
The scoreboard video panels are in place and the right field scoreboard and front ribbon boards are getting installed this month. A total of 46 display boards, including the main scoreboard, are to be displayed throughout the stadium.
In January, the concession stands and kitchens got equipped with walk-in coolers and kitchen hoods.
The stadium's parking structures are rising now, with foundations for the four garages complete, the report states. Tilt-up walls in the north garages are up and those for the south garages are getting erected this month.
The developers are pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a green building certification system, silver-level certification for the stadium complex.
Close to $23 million in public infrastructure improvements planned for the surrounding area are also underway.
Phase one of those upgrades is complete, the construction update report said, including installation of new sewer pipes, water distribution piping and storm drainage systems.
This month, phase two gets going. This includes fixing up the roads, sidewalks, traffic signals and street lights in the bordering blocks.
The stadium project is also meeting local hiring goals set in the contract agreements.
Local lawmakers asked that 35% of the firms contracted be located within Miami-Dade, that 50% of workers on the construction job be Miami-Dade residents and that 20% of those be Miamians.
As of Dec. 31, 53% of the firms working on the project were based in Miami-Dade, with 61% of workers residing within the county and 32% of those from Miami.
"Our small business participation numbers are tracking well ahead of our goals," Mr. Burgess said. "We have more local workers on site than we had committed to."
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