In only three months, Globe Life Field has gone vertical, way vertical with steel beams stretching from the main concourse to the upper deck. The process of putting the retractable roof in place will begin in earnest next month.
Some 800 to 850 workers are on site 24 hours a day for six days a week. All concrete is poured around 1 a.m., so that cement mixers and other large vehicles aren’t clogging morning rush-hour traffic.
Ground was broken 50 weeks ago, and there are roughly 80 weeks to go until the new home of the Texas Rangers opens its doors for the first time.
That sounds like plenty of time to get the thing built, especially considering that the site was a large, hilly parking lot one year ago. The Rangers and Manhattan Construction are confident, really confident, that everything will be good to go to start the 2020 MLB season.
“We have a schedule to keep and interim milestones,” said Jim Cuddihee, vice president of operations for Manhattan. “Obviously, we have the end date and some interim milestones with the Rangers as far as turning over parts of the building early to allow them to move in and get their offices set up.
“To this point, in the year since we had the groundbreaking, we brought the excavation down 50 feet below street level. We are 85 percent complete on the cast-in-place concrete and we started the structural steel. It’s not a rush, it’s more of coordination.”
The Rangers and Manhattan provided an update to the construction late Tuesday morning, and the Rangers announced that Plano-base Hilti is now the official tool of the ballclub.
Cuddihee, who was part of the teams that built Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium, said that the summer heat has worn down workers, but the recent rains haven’t been too much of an issue because a lot of the work are now covered.
The construction of the roof, though, is the part of the project that will be most difficult and where the most risk to the timeline can be found outside of mishap on the level of the 1999 crane collapse at Miller Park in Milwaukee that killed three workers and delayed the opening for a year.
The Rangers expect that they should know whether there will be any potential delays to the 2020 open by November 2019. One of the world’s largest cranes will be put in place next month to begin the heavier lifting on the retractable roof.
“Our biggest milestone is to be able to start the roof on time,” said Jack Hill, the Rangers’ senior vice president of project development. “The roof on these projects is always the critical part. It’s got the moving components, you got to get a certain amount of structure up before you start thee roof. Hitting that milestone is key. If you miss that milestone, it throws the whole thing off. We are about to start it. In fact, we are starting to assemble roof components right now.”
There are also significant monetary penalties in place for each day that the Rangers are not allowed to take occupancy of the new ballpark. That’s motivation enough, but Cuddihee has another goal in mind.
He wants an event at Globe Life Field shortly after the construction’s planned end date of March 1, 2020.
“I had the pleasure of being part of AT&T Stadium, so we all knew when we were supposed to be done,” Cuddihee said. “Football season was three months later, but they brought concerts in. I have been pushing the Rangers. I want a concert in here the first week of March.”
Rangers officials have met with entertainers not only to serve as the opening act for Globe Life Field, as George Strait was at AT&T Stadium, but to serve as a swan song for Globe Life Park.
The Rangers might also schedule exhibition games for the new ballpark just prior to Opening Day 2020 as a soft open and ask MLB to let them open the season on the road to give them a week to fix any kinks discovered during the exhibitions.
But Globe Life Field is on schedule and be completed on time, the Rangers and Manhattan say.
“We certainly have been pleased with the progress,” Hill said. “Credit the subcontractors. We have some good subcontractors. A lot of these subcontractors worked on AT&T. Some even worked on Globe Life Park. We have a good group of guys, we know them all, and they are familiar with us. Credit Manhattan with organizing the project. We have been extremely pleased.”