The date of the opening game was set. It would be a big public relations event with 8,000 people on-site. There was no flexibility in terms of the deadline. No room for error. The Atlanta Braves’ new $125 million training facility in North Port, Florida had to be ready to go on March 24, 2019. No wiggle room.
With HPM taking the leadership role on the project, ground was broken in late fall of 2017. But according to Alan Butler, HPM’s lead on the project, the Braves’ relationship with the initial general contractor was disjointed from the start. With only 16 months left until the March 24, 2019 deadline, the Braves’ organization opted to change contractors.
This type of dramatic change would normally wreak havoc on a project schedule, but HPM kept the job moving, maintained the schedule, and the project was completed on March 1, 2019.
Butler said, “We turned a cow pasture into a stadium in 15 months, even though there was a change in contractor late in the game.”
In addition to the contractor change, many changes were made — there were more than 1,300 requests for information — throughout the course of the project as well.
Butler praised Sarasota-based Tandem Construction, who joined Southfield, Michigan based Barton Malow on the job, for their hard work and professionalism throughout the project. “They knocked it out of the park. They really performed,” Butler added.
The project team was able to shave roughly $13 million off the price of the project through value engineering. He explained the original budget was $125 million, but the project team got it down to $108 million initial contract value without materially changing the project.
The land for the facility was donated by private developer Mattamy Homes. The 80-acre facility features a ballpark with 6,200 seats, a three-story clubhouse, seven practice fields, and state-of-the-art meeting areas and locker rooms. CoolToday, a local air conditioning, heating, plumbing, and electrical services company, entered into a 20-year naming rights agreement with the Braves, and the facility’s official name is CoolToday Park.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the project was the field had to be exactly the same as the Braves’ home field in Atlanta, SunTrust Park.
“The stadium is the exact same dimensions as their regular season field. The sod is the exact same sod, and the infield mix is exactly the same as SunTrust Park. The team practices and trains on a field that’s as identical to their home field as possible,” he said.
The final month leading up to opening day was the most challenging. He added, “The last month was brutally busy. We were looking at everything, putting on all the final touches, making sure everything was done just right. We had to scramble to get things done very quickly. But we did it.”
“With HPM on site, the Braves’ staff could stay in Atlanta working but could still be confident their capital project was going well. We were in charge of all communications, daily quality checks, cost management, and project monitoring and reporting. We led the construction of an amazing facility for the Atlanta Braves and built a strong relationship with the organization. And we’re very proud of both.”Alan Butler, HPM Senior Program Manager