Heavy Rain, Erosion Woes Halt Mountain Valley Pipeline

JESCO Inc. Builds New $55M Baseball Stadium for Mississippi State University

Mon January 15, 2018 - Southeast Edition #2
Irwin Rapoport – CEG CorrespondEnt


Even as construction continues on the new $55 million baseball stadium for Mississippi State University (MSU) in Starkville to rebuild the Dudy Noble Field — the homefield of the Bulldogs — the team has already held some practices inside the grounds of the new structure, which is being built by JESCO Inc.
Even as construction continues on the new $55 million baseball stadium for Mississippi State University (MSU) in Starkville to rebuild the Dudy Noble Field — the homefield of the Bulldogs — the team has already held some practices inside the grounds of the new structure, which is being built by JESCO Inc.
Even as construction continues on the new $55 million baseball stadium for Mississippi State University (MSU) in Starkville to rebuild the Dudy Noble Field — the homefield of the Bulldogs — the team has already held some practices inside the grounds of the new structure, which is being built by JESCO Inc. “It will be the finest stadium in college baseball,” said Andrew Piper, assistant director of communications, Mississippi State Athletics. Prior to the start of the 2018 baseball season, the plan is to complete the lower level of the stadium and outfield stands.

Even as construction continues on the new $55 million baseball stadium for Mississippi State University (MSU) in Starkville to rebuild the Dudy Noble Field — the homefield of the Bulldogs — the team has already held some practices inside the grounds of the new structure, which is being built by JESCO Inc.

Construction began on June 21, 2017 following the last game at the old stadium. Demolition began the next day of the 7,200-seat stadium, which was built in 1966. The new structure will be fully delivered at the beginning of the Bulldogs' 2019 season, but the team will be able to hold home games in 2018 as the lower level of the stadium and outfield lounges are expected to be ready by February.

The new stadium, funded by donations and the state, has been in the works for some time. Mississippi State Athletics unveiled the Dudy Noble Field Master Plan in the fall of 2014 to positive reviews by the public and fans.

“It will be the finest stadium in college baseball,” said Andrew Piper, assistant director of communications, Mississippi State Athletics. “The new stadium features Diamond Suites, Omaha Club Level and loge seating, a field level club titled 'The Backstop,' and apartment-style Left Field Lofts. The expanded capacity was planned to allow MSU to continue to host the largest crowds in college baseball. The new grandstand will hold more fans than the current one, the berm seating down each line will allow for greater general admission seating, and the outfield should accommodate the same number of fans, if not more.

“There will also be excellent standing room views of the field surrounding the concourse that the former facility did not provide,” he said. “The nickname of the old stadium was 'the Carnegie Hall of college baseball,' and its upgrade will build upon its reputation.”

The stadium, which slightly increases the footprint of the previous stadium, was designed by Wier Boerner Allin Architecture and national baseball stadium experts Populous, in consultation with MSU alumni Janet Marie Smith. Populous is no stranger to stadium architecture as it has designed 20 of Major League Baseball's current 30 ballparks, as well as the TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, home of the NCAA Men's College World Series.

The new stadium, which can seat approximately 9,000 people, will have a new double-tiered grandstand with chairback seating, an elevated concourse that encircles the playing field and allows a constant view of the game action, welcoming and easily accessible entry plazas, spacious restrooms, a concessions section, a kids' play area, berm seating, upgraded field lighting, an HD video board, team areas and dramatically improved aesthetics. The reserved parking area also is being expanded.

The demolition took nine weeks to complete, with the debris removed as the process pressed forward.

“It was mainly done with long-reach track equipment with demolition shears and hoe-rams,” said David Bryant, JESCO's senior project manager. “The cleanup was done with trackhoes and dump trucks. The rebar was salvaged and separated on site. The concrete was shipped to a crusher and the metal to a scrap yard.”

The work unofficially started earlier in the outfield. Thus far, JESCO has completed the following elements: installation of the structural steel on the stadium and outfield, the lower bowl; the precast concrete bleachers, the batters' eye and underground utilities. Nearly completed are the outfield lounges, the upper bowl steel bleachers, the slabs on-deck and upgrade, buck pavers on the Bulldog Plaza and the outfield retaining wall on the north side.

Prior to the start of the 2018 baseball season, the plan is to complete the lower level of the stadium and outfield stands.

“The amazing thing is that the home plate is still at the same location,” said Bryant. “We undercut the field and the field was replaced by the field's owner's subcontractor. We were restricted to the outside foul lines while this was done. It was special to watch this process and see the new field come to life.”

This project presents many challenges.

“We had to order the composite steel panels (CSPS) for the upper bowl from South Korea before the demolition was even complete,” said Bryant. “Getting it right —having all the bolt holes match up — was crucial. Preparing the electronic drawing models was a challenge as they had to be precise. A stadium is bowl complex-shaped (has complex geometry) and everything has to align to be installed correctly. The foundation bolts have to align with the steel columns; the steel raker beams have to align with the bleacher risers and treads (CSPS); and the bleachered seating has to be coordinated with the stairs, handrail, seating, etc.

“The stadium is pretty much in a valley and at a lower grade,” he added. “Another challenge was putting in temporary drainage at key times as we demolished the stadium and took the old drainage system out. We also had a very small amount of parking and storage areas — we were pretty much confined to the baseball stadium footprint. Deliveries were a challenge — getting in and out, and our employees had to park in a satellite parking area. We had limited laydown area.”

With team practices taking place on the field, JESCO placed a fence along the foul lines.

The short duration schedule was another hurdle with key milestones having to be met along the way, which meant that new construction activities were occurring as demolition was proceeding.

“Our team has vast experience with short-duration, tough projects,” said Bryant. “This team does its best work when it's on tight schedules — it seems to be our niche, fast-tracked and difficult. We do the impossible.”

Working in a busy university campus is not easy, but a fence surrounds the work site and campus police ensures nobody sneaks in. During the demolition, water misters were employed to keep the dust to a minimum.

“There's not a lot you can do about noise as far as big hammers and trackhoe rammers,” said Bryant. “It wasn't really that bad an issue because we worked closely with the owner. The Humphrey Coliseum was right next door and they had no complaints about the noise.”

On an average day, there are between 200 and 250 workers on site. The subcontractors include: Virginia Wrecking Co. Inc. for demolition, Brislin Inc. for mechanical, Conditioned Air for electrical, EMB Quality Masonry for masonry, Graham Roofing for roofing, Southern Bleacher for CSPS, F.L. Crane for finishes and metal panels and Burns Dirt for site work.

“We were allowed to work anytime we wanted to,” said Bryant, “but because of safety, you want to limit the amount of late night work. We're putting in 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week. We've worked with several of the subcontractors before, especially electrical, mechanical, and site. The key is to have a lot of meetings with them. We discuss the project daily and conduct pre-construction meetings with the subcontractors before they begin their work.

“We also have orientation on safety and jobsite requirements,” he said. “Communications is the key to subcontracting on short duration, complex projects. We make sure that everyone buys in on the end result and goal, and to have everyone get home safely. Safety is always first. We stand by our core values — 'safety, integrity, passion, and commitment.'”

Bryant is assisted by Bill Howell, general superintendent, Jed Moore, stadium superintendent, Jerry Sommers, superintendent and Mack Bean, assistant project manager.

“The schedule was put together by Bill Howell,” said Bryant, “who is a highly experienced superintendent. He has worked with the schedule from the bidding and planning stages and is carrying it through almost to tee. It's gratifying to have someone with his experience on the project.”

When completed the new stadium will have used 12,000 cu. yds. of concrete, 450 tons of rebar and 900 tons of steel.

JESCO's main yard/shop is 90 mi. from the work site. The company is using excavators, dozers, loaders, cranes, forklifts, backhoes, roller compactors, trackhoes and manlifts manufactured by Cat, Terex, JLG, Case, John Deere, Ford and Kubota.

“We rent a lot of equipments, especially manlifts,” said Bryant. “We own our crane, backhoes and other equipment. Our mechanical staff visit the site. For some reason, it seems to be the lifts that need the most maintenance. There were daily repairs during the demolition process with crawlers that maneuvered over the concrete rubble to help with the loading and tractor-trailer trucks had tire issues with pieces of rebar. A lot of shears had to be repaired as well, several times. Overall, we've been pretty lucky on maintenance.”

Many pieces of the rental equipment, such as dozers and other earth moving vehicles, were equipped with GPS systems and IT to help with maintenance.

JESCO purchases, leases and rents equipment from dealerships such United Rental in Starkville, Thompson Caterpillar in Columbus (MS), HERC in Tupelo and Williams Equipment and Supply (Bobcat ) in Tupelo.

JESCO allocates resources to upgrade the skills of its mechanics.

Bryant noted that the old stadium was well built.

“During the demolition we noticed that the concrete appeared to have very high strengths due to the wear on our demo shears,” he said. “It has cured well over 30 years — it was really a tough cookie to take down. The overall structure was very well built and it was also constructed under a tight schedule.”

CEG