SBJ/January 24 - 30, 2005/Facilities

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  • Designers bidding on chance to give Orange Bowl extreme makeover

    The plan to renovate Orange Bowl Stadium in Miami is finally taking shape, and designers will bid on the estimated $125 million project in the next two months, Hammes Co. President Bob Dunn said.

    Madison, Wis.-based Hammes is working with the University of Miami and the city of Miami to improve the 70-year-old publicly owned stadium and create a venue that can attract events other than college football and international soccer.

    The school hired Hammes late in 2002 to determine the feasibility of upgrading the stadium, home of the Hurricanes football team, and Ellerbe Becket participated in the preliminary study.

    It has taken more than two years for Hammes to get the university and the city of Miami to agree on all aspects of the renovation, which at one point was tied into a Hammes proposal on behalf of the city to build a ballpark for the Florida Marlins next to the stadium, an idea that stalled because of lack of public funding.

    A key component of the Orange Bowl plan was resolved when Miami-Dade County voters approved a $2.9 billion general obligation bond last November that included $50 million earmarked for stadium improvements. An additional $16 million in funding came from a 2001 voter-approved bond issue.

    Suite leases, naming rights and other sponsorship packages at Orange Bowl Stadium should help pay for the balance of construction. “It’s fair to say that funding will evolve from stadium revenue,” Dunn said.

    The plan is for a “complete makeover of the building to address some of the issues of obsolescence and establishing a new approach to premium seating,” Dunn said. The stadium “lacks a real identity,” and the goal is to redevelop the facility to reflect the city’s diverse culture and the Hurricanes’ strong football tradition, he said.

    Dunn thinks the stadium can be transformed into a venue attracting as many as 185 events a year, despite its location in a tough neighborhood. “We’ve never viewed [the location] as problematic,” he said.

    The intimate seating bowl is one of the stadium’s best features and “you can’t replace that,” Dunn said. “It’s similar to Lambeau Field; our goal is to protect and preserve the atmosphere of the building.”

    Hammes was the project manager for the $295 million reconstruction of the Green Bay Packers’ stadium. The renovation kept the seating bowl intact, while adding more premium seating, expanding the concourses and building the Lambeau Field Atrium with banquet space and a year-round restaurant.

    COLLEGE TRANSFER: The collegiate market is one area of sports facility construction

    growing at a rapid pace, and HOK Sport recently hired HNTB architect Sherri Hultgren to meet the demand. College work will account for more than 30 percent of HOK’s billings in 2005, compared to 7 percent in 1997, said Scott Radecic, senior principal and director of the firm’s college division.

    Hultgren spent eight years with HNTB, and her notable projects include assisting in the design of a $70 million renovation of Purdue University’s Ross-Ade Stadium and an $80 million expansion of Oregon State’s Reser Stadium. She lives in Los Angeles and plans to move to Kansas City this summer. Hultgren starts working for HOK on a $55 million renovation at Washington State’s Martin Stadium.

    HOK has up to 45 people concentrating on college work and is competing for stadium renovations at California, Illinois and Michigan. Sacramento State and Washington are actively bidding or selecting designers for stadium improvements, and Akron is studying the possibility of building a new stadium.

    Hultgren said designers also are tapping into the relatively new market for training facilities.

    “The number of projects that initiate in 2005 are double compared to what’s opening this year,” Radecic said. “We were at a point where we needed to increase the size of our group. Sherri brings a level of programming knowledge that complements everything we do.”

    Don Muret can be reached at

    Print | Tags: Ellerbe Becket, Miami Marlins, Football, Green Bay Packers
  • Expansion for Michigan: 79 new suites

    The office of the University of Michigan’s architect issued a proposal last Monday for designers to bid on a $165.6 million renovation of Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

    The document was sent to Ellerbe Becket, HKS, HNTB, HOK Sport, Rossetti and 360 Architecture, a source familiar with the project said.

    The proposal provides details of an expansion that would add 79 suites, 2,000 outdoor club seats, 1,000 indoor club seats, 1,200 regular bench seats and 168 spaces for disabled patrons and their companions.

    The proposal said 5,632 seats would be gained in the renovation. That would increase capacity to 113,133 if no seats were displaced by the new construction, which the proposal did not address.

    The stadium, college football’s largest, was built in 1927 and has 107,501 seats.

    The number of men’s and women’s rest rooms and concession areas would be increased and the concourse expanded by 57,000 square feet.

    The deadline for bids is Feb. 4. Three firms will be selected for interviews during the week of Feb. 21, according to the proposal.

    The university’s board of regents must OK the budget and scope of the renovation and hire the architect before the project can go forward, said Bruce Madej, assistant athletic director for media relations.

    HNTB has worked with the university to study upgrades to the stadium as part of a 2002 master plan.

    HOK was awarded contracts late in 2004 to design a renovation for Michigan’s baseball facility and a new venue for women’s softball.

    Print | Tags: 360 Architecture, Colleges, Ellerbe Becket, Rosetti
  • Retro a no-no for D.C. ballpark

    The Washington Nationals’ new ballpark won’t be another retrospective retread cast in the mold of other MLB facilities built in the last 15 years, based on the design proposal sent to several architects earlier this month.

    The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission’s document says the design goal for the stadium “should not be a duplication of other recently built ballfields in the country, but should take the most successful elements of these new facilities and create architecture for Washington that is distinctive and of this time.”

    Designers considering themselves unconventional in their approach to planning stadiums and arenas say the proposal brings a breath of fresh air to the industry.

    “They don’t want the next Camden Yards,” said Bill Johnson, senior principal with 360 Architecture, the firm that has been working for the District of Columbia the past two years to identify the ballpark site and plan the redevelopment of areas surrounding the stadium at the site chosen, near the Anacostia River.

    Allen Lew, the commission’s executive director, didn’t return a phone call for comment. The commission will appoint a design team by Feb. 28. Construction is scheduled to start Feb. 1, 2006. The ballpark’s completion is targeted for March 1, 2008.

    The proposal reinforces the design objective by requiring each team of architects bidding the project to have experience with designing buildings of “similar national or international significance in urban environments.”

    Translated, that statement indicates that traditional sports facility designers should think of including people such as Frank Gehry, Cesar Pelli, I.M. Pei or Antoine Predock on their teams, the so-called starchitects recognized for designing iconic structures outside the sports world, said Stuart Smith, spokesman for Ellerbe Becket.

    Those four world-class designers have also been involved in planning sports venues.

    “You can read between the lines; they want the next generation of ballpark design, not the status quo,” Johnson said. “They don’t want a throwback, and that’s a great challenge. Our firm has recognized that they’re pushing the envelope and, for us, that’s welcome news.”

    Dan Meis and Ron Turner, both with Ellerbe Becket and NBBJ before forming a partnership two years ago, pride themselves in not following the same path as the “typical suspects” in sports facility design, and the D.C. ballpark project is right up their alley, according to Meis.

    Meis and Turner were involved in the redevelopment process of RFK Stadium, the home of the Nationals for the next three seasons, and were with Ellerbe Becket when the firm designed MCI Center in Washington, where the NBA Wizards and NHL Capitals play.

    “We’ve looked for projects with a sophisticated design and high-profile development,” Meis said. “There haven’t been too many of those.”

    Said Turner: “It’s the finest design opportunity since Camden Yards.”

    HOK Sport designed Camden Yards, considered the benchmark of modern ballpark design and the first of what turned out to be a string of MLB facilities with a retro theme. HOK’s Earl Santee and Joe Spear, the firm’s two designers specializing in baseball, declined to comment on the D.C. proposal.

    HOK may have taken its knocks in the media for designing too many old-style venues, but to Spear’s credit, he worked with Predock on a successful design of Petco Park in San Diego, which with its soft colors and exotic plant forms is anything but retro.

    Print | Tags: 360 Architecture, Baseball, Basketball, Ellerbe Becket, Hockey, Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards
  • $105M verdict sends ripple through industry

    Stadium concessionaires received a grim reminder to emphasize alcohol education with their employees last week after a New Jersey jury levied $105 million in judgments against Aramark, but firms wouldn’t say what specific effects the case might have on their business.

    Aramark was ordered to pay the damages after the jury determined it continued to sell beer to an obviously intoxicated fan at a 1999 New York Giants game at the Meadowlands. The fan later was behind the wheel and crashed into another car, paralyzing a 2-year-old girl.

    The nine-figure sum is reportedly the largest judgment against a business for serving too much alcohol to an impaired customer.

    “That’s an astounding number, especially in the sports world,” said Marc Blumencranz, executive vice president of BWD Group LLC in Jericho, N.Y., major league sports’ largest insurance broker. “I can’t think of a claim that comes anywhere near that.”

    The verdicts amounted to $30 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages. Aramark plans to appeal, said Debbie Albert, associate vice president. Aramark “believes that it has adequate insurance and other resources to address this matter,” according to an 8K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission after the verdict.

    Food service firms wouldn’t say whether the case might further reduce the purchase limits and cutoff times for beer sales. Executives did say the judgments would have them rethinking their business practices.

    Concessionaires will pay greater attention to their vendors selling beer in the seats to make sure they’re not violating the rules for serving intoxicated patrons, and there may be more states passing legislation prohibiting alcohol sales in the seating bowl, said Chris Bigelow, a food service consultant. California and Massachusetts are two states with such laws, he said.

    The inebriated fan and drunken driver, Daniel Lanzaro, reportedly told authorities he gave a $10 tip to an Aramark vendor to buy more beers than the two per purchase allowed at Giants Stadium.

    “This is something that will make every facility manager and concessionaire re-evaluate what they’re doing and making sure these types of situations don’t happen,” said Ed Campbell, owner of the Ed Campbell Co., food provider at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas and the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

    Tom Olson, general manager of Sportservice at Miller Park in Milwaukee, said, “You have to be cautious and keep your policies up to date and your training adequate.”

    Sportservice uses the Training for Intervention Procedures program, or TIPS, to educate workers about alcohol and its effects on people and the appropriate steps to take when someone has had too much to drink, said Rick Abramson, the company’s president.

    The concessionaire also participates in the Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management program, or TEAM, another educational program for employees, Olson said. MLB and the NFL provided fans with the chance to win tickets to the 2004 World Series and the coming Super Bowl and Pro Bowl by registering as a designated driver at their facilities.

    “Most companies and teams have their own policies and procedures, but you have to manage it, make sure they’re doing it correctly,” Olson said.

    Training the workers to identify fans who’ve had too much to drink is a preventive measure, however. “Management ultimately has the responsibility to see what’s going on,” Campbell said. “You have to take charge.”

    Dram shop laws in 42 states, including New Jersey, where the court case was heard, stipulate that a company or establishment serving alcohol to an intoxicated person who subsequently causes death or injury to a third party as a result of alcohol-related accidents is liable for its actions.

    Cotton Bowl supplier Campbell noted that Texas enforces that law.

    “That light bulb’s been on at our porch for a long time,” Campbell said. “I’ll stop serving beer totally before I compromise my livelihood.”

    Print | Tags: Football, New York Giants
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