Thursday, December 07, 2000

Ballpark's steel likely to cost more

Additions to plans add about $5 million to estimates

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Structural steel bids for Great American Ball Park came in more than $5 million over estimates because the job will require about 1,200 tons more steel than calculated.

        But construction managers are leaning toward accepting a $33 million bid anyway, because a delay in buying the steel could jeopardize plans to open the Reds ballpark by Opening Day 2003.

        Mike Sieving, Hamilton County's construction executive, said the construction schedule revolves around the structural steel. That makes getting the steel in place critical.

[photo] A section of Cinergy Field has given way to make room for the Great American Ballpark.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
        “We believe it's necessary to buy it now,” Mr. Sieving said. “We also think it's advantageous to sit down and work with the successful contractor to help us with the value engineering process.

        “At this point, that's the county's perspective.”

        Project Manager Arnie Rosenberg said the two bids — one for $33.8 million and another for $33.6 million — are being evaluated and a recommendation on the next step will be made to commissioners in the next couple of weeks.

        He said nothing in the law will prevent one of the bids from being accepted, even though both were more than 10 percent over the county's $28.5 million estimate.

        “We need to look at market conditions and availability of materials,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “There was about 12 percent more steel in the bid than in our estimate, and we're trying to determine if (the bidders) are right, if we're right, or if it's somewhere in between.”

        Mr. Rosenberg said the extra steel crept into the ballpark's design as architects polished off drawings. He called the extra steel “natural growth,” but admitted that it's a lot of growth — natural or otherwise.

        “All of the steel information was included in the bids, but there was a lag time in working it into our estimates,” Mr. Rosenberg said.

        Another large bid — for the concrete work — was rejected because it came in at $59.4 million, compared with the county's esti mate of $42 million.

        John Michel, deputy public works director, said that contract will be broken down into four or five smaller parts.

        Managers thought they'd be getting bids from three firms on the concrete package, but found out the day before the bids were due that the three companies merged into a joint venture for the bid.

        Breaking the contract down will help guarantee more competition for the jobs, Mr. Rosenberg said.

        “This is sending a message to the community that Hamilton County will not accept singular bids that put us in a box,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “We will not roll over and we expect market competition.”


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