SBJ/January 24 - 30, 2005/Facilities

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

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