Friday, July 06, 2001

New park is looking up

Crews getting first layers of concrete down

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] An aerial view shows the footprint of the new park taking shape, wedged between Firstar Center (far left) and Cinergy Field (right).
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        Construction crews have been running circles around the construction site for Great American Ball Park. Actually, they've been running in half-circles.

        A concrete slab that will be a portion of the lower seating bowl is now clearly visible, along the northernmost portion of the site and just inside the flood wall.

        The first level of what will be the ballpark's parking garage also is taking shape, just on the northern side of the flood wall.

        “There is a natural flow to this work, and it happens in waves,” said Mike Sieving, Hamilton County construction executive. “They work in a circular pattern in offset waves that go around the ballpark.”

[photo] The western portion of the flood wall of the new Great American Ball Park runs across the center of this photo.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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        So far those waves have reached only a little less than halfway for the first concrete pour. At the easternmost point, butting up against Firstar Center, is a concrete slab that will hold the seating bowl and also support the scoreboard and light stands.

        The construction has forced the closing of the ramp — known as Ramp LL — that connects Second Street and Pete Rose Way at Main Street. The closing has been necessary while trucks pump concrete into the site.

        The closing of the ramp has been a concern to city officials.

        John Deatrick, Cincinnati's director of transportation and engineering, said a solution was found at a Tuesday meeting. The ramp will be shut down for the last time today, he said.

        “We were having some real problems with people trying to get to their office buildings,” Mr. Deatrick said. “They've agreed to either leave a lane open or do their (concrete) pours at night. It will probably be a combination of the two.”

   What's supposed to be done when
    Construction milestones at Great American Ball Park:
    July 23: Structural steel erection is to begin.
    Aug. 31: First concrete slab for parking garage is to be complete. Light tower erection is to begin.
    Oct. 1: Flood wall to be complete.
    Dec. 31: Lower seating bowl to be complete.
    April 2002: Structural steel erection to be complete.
    April 2003: Stadium is to open.
        With the river to the south, a highway to the north and two arenas on either side, the ballpark is being constructed on one of the most difficult sites imaginable. The tight borders leave only a small area in the middle of the site to store materials — mainly wood and metal forms that hold wet concrete until it dries.

        “It's a pretty tough site,” Mr. Sieving said.

        But the close confines haven't caused any undue hardship yet, said project manager Arnie Rosenberg.

        The project was $20 million over budget — topping out at $300 million — a few months ago. But after several bids came in well under the estimated cost, the ballpark cost is now tracking at $290.7 million, and dropping.

        The Reds have agreed to cover any costs over $280 million.

        “The budget is beginning to solidify, and we certainly have contingencies to cover any unforeseen issues,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “There are going to be continued pressures that could make (the final cost) grow. But it's everyone's goal to manage them.”

        Those pressures include contract changes and a tight construction schedule that needs to be completed on time if the stadium is to open in April 2003. If crews fall behind in building the stadium, it will cost money to get caught up.

        The structural steel is five weeks behind schedule and the precast concrete should be back on schedule by the end of August, Mr. Sieving said.


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