Features

Gilbane Building Company and Patterson-Horth Complete New IU Baseball and Softball Facilities In 10 Months

By Julie Devine

bk_field_IU_emblem_01_0221_md

When can drought be a good thing? When you’ve got a $19.8 million baseball and softball complex breaking ground through solid limestone in May 2012, with a completion deadline 10 short months away.

“Had it not been for last summer being really, really dry, we would’ve been in some trouble,” said Ross Imwalle, Superintendent and Project Engineer for Gilbane Building Company, construction manager for Indiana University’s (IU) Bart Kaufman Baseball Field and Andy Mohr Softball Field in Bloomington.

Wet clay and rain delays didn’t mix well with the aggressive schedule. But thanks to a little luck with the weather, an “inside-out” construction approach, proprietary machinery brought in by site contractor Crider & Crider, Inc., of Bloomington, and some crazy work hours, the new facility on the north edge of IU’s campus made its deadline.

 

Inside Out

Bart Kaufman and softball complex construction photos, 11/28/12_Mike DickberndTwo events dictated the construction schedule for the new stadium complex, designed by Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects of Indianapolis. First, construction had to wait for the student population to shrink. IU’s spring 2012 commencement occurred on Saturday, May 5, and site work began the next Monday morning.

For the end date, IU had committed to host the Hoosier Classic softball tournament on March 15, 2013. “That was the single greatest challenge right out of the gate,” said Jason Jeffries, Project Manager for Indianapolis’ Patterson-Horth, Inc., the general trades contractor.

To meet the timetable, the construction team took an unconventional approach. “We had to build both fields first,” Imwalle explained. “Usually when you construct a stadium, you build all the supporting structures around it, then put in the fields, then put in the fence.”

That approach didn’t work with the delivery date. “In the Midwest [in March], you’re not guaranteed any type of weather except unpredictable weather,” Imwalle joked.

“We had to get both playing surfaces ready before winter because we wouldn’t have the temperatures to keep the glue hot to put in artificial turf [in the baseball stadium] and we wouldn’t have the growing season to get a good stand of established grass for softball. If we’d waited, they would’ve torn up the grass that first weekend and it would’ve been shot for the rest of the season.”

Instead, the fields went in during the fall and the rest of the facilities followed.

 

The Wolf and Rock Hammers

Before the playing fields could go in, though, significant amounts of limestone had to be removed from the site that used to serve as IU’s intramural fields. “For the softball field, we had to cut down the elevation 9 feet, and about 3 feet down we hit limestone,” Imwalle said. “The baseball field was a four-foot cut and that was pretty much all rock.”

Installation of sod onto the softball stadium, 10/15/12_Mike DickberndAt least the limestone didn’t come as a surprise, given the nature of IU’s campus and past construction projects. “At the scope review meeting, we asked if the contractor would be blasting or using a hoe ram as a means of excavation,” Imwalle said. “Steve Crider [Crider & Crider’s President] said, ‘There’s a third option.’ They found a piece of proprietary machinery called the Wolf, made by Wirtgen, a German road machinery company. The machine had only been in the U.S. for a few weeks.”

Similar to a road grinder that breaks up asphalt, the Wolf’s tungsten carbide teeth ground the limestone. “The Wolf could go down to a depth of 7 or 8 inches with an 8 foot pass driving about 4 miles per hour,” Imwalle explained. “As long as there was daylight, they ran it back and forth.”

Unlike traditional road grinders, the Wolf mixed the ground-up limestone with the clay soil around it, then a different machine picked up the mixture. “It was deemed structurally stable and used as compactable fill throughout the site,” Imwalle said. “Initially, all the bidders anticipated bringing in fill because they’d lose a lot of what was there—but we ended up with 30,000 yards of extra fill material that they used on other projects.”

In addition to Crider & Crider’s work, the other contractors were responsible for any rock removal required to complete their own footings or piping. “Almost every contractor needed to put something in the ground,” Jeffries said. “If you came to the worksite anytime between May and early November, you couldn’t leave without hearing the constant sound of rock hammers. For months on end, we had anywhere from two to five rock hammers beating through the ground.”

 

Outsmarting the Weather

baseball_Aerial_05_0426_csLimestone removal progressed virtually nonstop throughout the dry summer, but the winter created challenges. “We had to do a lot of temporary enclosures on buildings that weren’t completely ready yet,” Jeffries said. “We needed them weather-tight, to the best of our ability, so we could continue working no matter what the conditions outside.”

In February and March, “We were trying to put down sidewalks and it snowed,” Imwalle said. “We had to dig everything out ahead, then throw concrete blankets over it to keep the ground warm. As soon as we poured the concrete, we covered it back up.”

 

Extra Hours

The schedule necessitated a commitment to overcoming every challenge. “The verbiage in the scopes of work specified that contractors had to do whatever was necessary to meet substantial completion,” Imwalle said. “We had a milestone schedule in the documents as a guide, then we developed a baseline schedule with the construction team. Whatever they needed to do to get to that point—if it was additional manpower, overtime, weekends, whatever it took—it was on them. We bought it that way in the documents because we knew it would be an extremely aggressive schedule.”

According to Jeffries, mindset played a key role. “Everybody on the team had to buy into the fact that we’d play softball on March 15. If you didn’t have that in your head, it wasn’t going to happen. No matter what came up, we didn’t stop working.”

Daily meetings helped coordinate where each contractor was and where they were going. “Everybody was required to attend,” Imwalle said. “Nobody considered paying you for something you had to fix because you missed the coordination meeting.”

 

Play Ball

baseball_softball_complex_csOn March 15, work was substantially complete and the softball team took over Andy Mohr Field for their tournament.

The baseball team moved into Bart Kaufman Baseball Field on March 20 for their first home game. “There’s not a piece of dirt on that baseball field,” said Mark Thomas, Patterson-Horth’s Director of Business Development. “Even the base paths, pitcher’s mound, and bullpens are artificial turf.”

IU’s old baseball and softball fields were built in the 1950s, so media facilities are greatly expanded. Each of the new stadiums also includes locker rooms and team rooms, dugouts, indoor and outdoor hitting cages, scoreboards, lighting and sound systems, hospitality suites, and concessions.

In the inaugural season in the new facilities, IU’s baseball team won its first outright Big Ten conference title since 1932 and earned the school’s first-ever birth in the College World Series. In a press release from IU, Fred Glass, University Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, said, “These state-of-the-art facilities represent a significant commitment to the growth of these programs. With year-round resources, equipment, and a professional atmosphere, IU softball and baseball will be able to thrive, recruit, and compete in some of the best facilities in the country.”

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