SBJ/January 9 - 15, 2006/Facilities

Who will head Orange Bowl rehab?

The city of Miami recently issued a formal request to developers, architects and designers interested in being program manager for the long-awaited Orange Bowl Stadium renovation, a project that local officials have been planning for more than three years.

There’s a catch, however.

The city of Miami has asked companies to bid
to become program manager for renovations to
Orange Bowl Stadium, but Hammes Co. says it
already has that contract with the city.

Hammes Co., best known for teaming with architect Ellerbe Becket to add premium seating at Lambeau Field and build a five-story atrium containing banquet space, a year-round restaurant and the Packer Hall of Fame in Green Bay, says it already has a contract to serve as program manager for Orange Bowl Stadium improvements. Hammes has consulted on stadium upgrades for the city and the University of Miami, the facility’s football tenant, dating to 2002, said Bob Dunn, the company’s president.

“I’m sitting here looking at a document with my signature and Joe’s signature on it,” Dunn said,referring to Miami City Manager Joe Arriola.

Hammes provided a partial copy of the project management agreement to SportsBusiness Journal. The contract, dated May 9, 2005, is between the city of Miami and Hammes Sports Development of Florida LLC, and also contains signatures from Miami City Attorney Jorge Fernandez and Donna Carrillo, the city’s risk management administrator.

Arriola said the city’s legal department has reservations about how Hammes planned to financially guarantee the project and its plan to form a new company for the endeavor.

Said Dunn: “The contracting entity we have is similar to what we use coast to coast. No one with the city raised a question until after the contract was signed.”

The city waived the competitive bid process and approved hiring Hammes for a fee not to exceed $6 million, according to the March 10, 2005, meeting agenda posted on the Miami City Commission Web site.

The resolution states that the commission confirmed the “city manager’s finding of an emergency” in forgoing the formal bid procedures.

“I was able to use them as a sole source because they already had experience with the stadium,” Arriola said.

In August, city auditors released an investigative report that criticized the city’s failure to bid capital improvement projects.

“I know the city was taking a lot of heat for its contracting practices,” Dunn said.

Arriola could not be reached for a reply on whether the audit forced the city to restart the process of hiring a program manager for the stadium project.

Hammes doesn’t plan to respond to the current request for a program manager.

“We have a signed contract and, until that is resolved, we’re not in position to do anything different,” Dunn said. “We feel confident either way. It’ll solve itself. We’re happy to go forward, and if they terminate the agreement we’ll go in a different direction. Either way, we’re owed a sizable amount of money.”

Hammes isn’t owed any money because the firm “never actually worked for the city,” Arriola said. “The university hired Hammes to work with us about rebuilding the Orange Bowl.”

Dunn reiterated that his company has been consulting for the city for the last two to three years and said it has “paid bills on behalf of the city of Miami” during that period.Companies interested in overseeing the project, now estimated to cost $140 million, are required to fill out a questionnaire, and city officials plan to select three firms to compete for the position, according to the request. The questionnaires are due today.

The city wants to select a program manager within 30 days and then consider architects to design Orange Bowl Stadium upgrades, which will include building 32 suites and 4,000 club seats, Arriola said. The city wants to start construction in December, he said.

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