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  • Competition among bidders keeps lid on Purdue refurb costs

    The recession continues to drive construction costs down, benefiting sports projects such as the $100 million renovation and expansion of Purdue University’s Mackey Arena.

    The first four sets of design releases, representing 75 percent to 80 percent of the project work, have been awarded to subcontractors, and their prices were well below what officials had initially budgeted, said Tom Tingle, vice president of HNTB, the project architect.

    The most recent documents, coordinated with Turner Construction, the school’s construction manager, were released in early to mid-July for the project, one of the most expensive bids in Indiana this year.

    With the economy in the dumper, more than 200 companies, including several smaller firms, showed enough interest across all trades to buy a set of plans for the renovation, Tingle said.

    The bids on the Mackey Arena renovation have been
    favorable, Purdue says, but it’s still a $100M project.

    The number of construction firms that followed through and submitted bids was far less, due in part to their ability to insure work, but four to eight companies were competing for jobs that typically get three responses, Tingle said.

    Purdue Athletic Director Morgan Burke is encouraged by the trend, but he cautioned the school still has three bid packages to release. At this point, it remains a $100 million project.

    “You don’t know how the other [bids] will come in or how the work will go in the field,” Burke said. “The bids received have been favorable, but there is a lot of digging yet to be done.”

    Mackey’s makeover includes doubling the concourse width, building 700 padded club seats and a premium lounge for those ticket holders, constructing a new practice court next to the arena and adding new training and academic support facilities for all of Purdue’s 500 student athletes.

    When officials started planning Mackey’s makeover in 2007, commodity prices were “off the chart,” which made it challenging for the Boilermakers’ athletic department to develop a reasonable budget to present to the university’s board of trustees, Burke said.

    “Part of it we were just guessing,” he said.

    As it moved forward, what officials thought would be an $82.5 million job increased to $100 million as the project grew to include renovations and additions to areas outside Mackey Arena, including two new football practice fields.

    Private donations, premium seat and concessions revenue and income Purdue receives from the Big Ten Network will finance the project, Burke said. The plan is to play the first men’s basketball game in the refurbished arena Nov. 11, 2011.

    GRAB BAG: Delaware North Sportservice is building a new grab-and-go concession at TD Garden in Boston to meet the last-minute needs of smaller groups renting day-of-game suites.

    The Premium Market, a $70,000 project on the arena’s fifth floor, a premium level, transforms a traditional concession stand into a space where patrons serve themselves by selecting plates of higher-end foods from open-air refrigerated units to take back to their suites.

    “The way things are changing in our market, we have a lot more individual suite sales than conventional deals,” said Mike Zielinski, Sportservice’s general manager at TD Garden, another Delaware North property.

    “For many of those people, it’s their first time in a suite and they are not pre-ordering food,” Zielinski said. “We wanted to offer them some premium fare, whether it’s shrimp cocktail for four or platters of meats and cheeses.”

    A new grab ‘n’ go spot at Cleveland’s Progressive
    Field is exceeding sales projections.

    The open-market concessions concept has worked well for Sportservice in baseball. Its new Go! Foods stand on the main concourse along third base at Progressive Field is generating $1,300 in sales per home game, $800 above initial projections, said Chris Angne, Sportservice’s on-site general manager.

    The focus in Cleveland is to offer healthy food options such as salmon sliders, veggie chili and yogurt parfaits, Angne said. Cleveland Clinic, an Indians sponsor, drove the idea, and its nutritionists teamed with Sportservice executive chef James Major to develop the Go! Foods menu.

    The location does offer popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jack. Those snacks higher in fat content and calories account for 70 percent of sales at Go! Foods, Angne said.

    Sportservice is not the first food provider to introduce an open market theme in a sports facility. Stadium Food & Beverage, the Carolina Panthers’ in-house concessionaire, operates similar grab-and-go stands at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Also, QuikTrip has a location inside Kansas City’s Sprint Center, where the convenience store chain is a founding partner.

    WHAT’S OLD IS NEW: The Georgia World Congress Center Authority has installed new Optitech high-definition video screens in both end zones of the Georgia Dome, and found good use for the facility’s old boards.

    The two seven-year-old units, made by the same vendor, are now attached to the building’s exterior on the stadium’s southwest side near Gate A, in view of traffic moving in both directions on a six-lane highway, said Carl Adkins, the dome’s general manager.

    The older boards’ video and messaging capabilities provide a significant upgrade over the dot-matrix, Tri-vision boards, dated technology from the early 1990s.

    New video boards went inside the Georgia Dome,
    while the old boards went outside.

    Inside the dome, the new 2,400-square-foot screens are about three times the size of the old ones and give the Falcons greater flexibility for displaying their sponsors’ brands. Full-screen replay is much bigger and better for the fans, said Jim Smith, the club’s vice president of marketing.

    The authority paid for the $7 million project as part of its agreement with the Falcons to share costs to upgrade the stadium. Next year, the team’s landlord will invest an additional $3 million to upgrade the dome’s audio system, Adkins said.

    When that job is completed, the team and the authority will have spent a combined $55 million in stadium improvements in four years, he said.

    NFL NOTES: Krispy Kreme has stepped up its existing partnership with the Carolina Panthers with a new stand selling doughnuts, coffee and ice cream in an old smoking lounge on the club level at Bank of America Stadium. Smokers on the 300 level still have two areas to use during games, said Todd Smoots, director of Stadium Food & Beverage. Also, SF&B has created the Carolina Nacho Co. with a taco truck theme.  … It’s getting late, but the Bears and the Chicago Park District continue talks to build a second team store in the south end of Soldier Field for the 2009 season. “We hope to reach a resolution in the near future,” team spokesman Scott Hagel said. Bears concessionaire Delaware North Sportservice would operate the store. … Unlike San Diego defensive back Antonio Cromartie, whose Twitter complaint about training camp food prompted the Chargers to fine him $2,500, the Washington Redskins have no beef with their food provider at Redskins Park, the team’s headquarters, practice facility and summer camp home. The Redskins signed the same Virginia-based firm, R&R Catering, to a one-year contract to operate the suites and clubs at FedEx Field. Ridgewells, another local company, previously fed premium patrons.

    Don Muret can be reached at

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