Florida Marlins stadium on time and on budget, so far
By Risa Polansky
The new Marlins ballpark rising in Little Havana, set to be complete in 2012, is on time and on budget, Miami-Dade officials report.
The 37,000-capacity, retractable-roof stadium is to cost including interest about $3 billion over the coming decades.
The construction budget is about $515 million, plus about $23 million in public infrastructure work.
Construction is "tracking on time and within budget" and is about 20% complete, José Galan of the county's Office of Capital Improvements told commissioners last week.
The news is significant in a county still smarting from late, costly projects like the performing arts center downtown and airport terminal revamps.
But so far, when it comes to the ballpark, "every part of the project is on schedule and on budget," County Manager George Burgess wrote in a quarterly report this month.
"To be sure, we still face nearly 800 days of hard work, and challenges are certain to appear," he wrote. "These first six months of work, however, indicate that this public-private partnership has the potential to be a national model that will bring pride to our government, our baseball fans and our entire community."
Also on track is local hiring.
In approving the stadium deal, local lawmakers asked that 50% of workers on the construction job be Miami-Dade residents, and that 20% of those be Miamians.
Because attorneys say requiring hiring percentages could lead to legal challenges, the numbers are simply aspirations.
But so far they're being exceeded, county officials say.
As far as the 50% county-20% city participation goals, "the achievement to date is 64% and 30% respectively," Department of Small Business Development Director Penelope Townsley told commissioners.
Officials have also asked that 35% of subcontractor firms participating in the project be Miami-Dade based.
As of December, Ms. Townsley said, 59% are.
Commission Chair Dennis Moss applauded the progress.
"The Marlins made a significant commitment.… They really seem to be living up to it," he said, but stressed constant monitoring and written reports.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado is also keeping an eye on local hiring for the ballpark project, having raised concerns late last year.
Ms. Townsley promised a monthly report.
As far as the construction itself, Mr. Burgess' memo takes commissioners through step by step so far, beginning in July with some site infrastructure work.
Visible on the site today, more than half a year later, are eight "super columns" and four "tree columns" that will support the ballpark's roof.
Construction of the structural foundation and shear walls is progressing, he wrote, including the concrete deck of the east and west main concourse levels.
Now, Mr. Galan told commissioners, workers are raising track beams to sit atop the columns to allow the retractable roof to move along motorized guide rails.
And up after that, according to Mr. Burgess' memo, are the north and south foundations, shear walls and decks.
Public infrastructure work is progressing, he wrote, and could come in under budget.
The ballpark is on track so far for the required silver LEED certification — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — though Mr. Burgess called the energy model "the single greatest challenge of the project at this time."
And one "important accomplishment" thus far: selecting artists for the art in public places component of the project.
Red Grooms of New York is to create a nearly $2.5 million "home run feature"; Carlos Cruz-Diez of Paris is to create the $1.5 million stadium entrance paving design and Daniel Arsham/Snarkitecture of Brooklyn and Miami is to create the plaza roof column lighting and historical commemorative marker for $1.27 million.
"This roster includes celebrated craftsmen whose prior works have become distinctive features in contemporary ballparks," Mr. Burgess wrote. "Their efforts will help give our new stadium a distinct South Florida flair."
He promised ballpark progress reports at the end of each calendar quarter through April 2012, when it's time to play ball.