Material Costs Cause Spike in AR Ballpark

Wed February 01, 2006 - Southeast Edition

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR (AP) Higher costs for construction materials have pushed the price of a new baseball park being built in North Little Rock to $2 million over its $28 million budget.

North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays said cuts have been made in the construction plan.

“We’ll do more cutting or come up with additional money, or both,” Hays said.

The $28-million stadium is funded with a two-year temporary 1-cent sales tax increase that will raise a projected $32 million. The Class AA Arkansas Travelers are to move into the ballpark for the 2007 season and land is being prepared for the start of construction.

The stadium is being built in downtown North Little Rock on 11.6 acres donated by financier Warren Stephens.

Construction manager Bob East of East-Harding Inc./ Hensel Phelps Construction said hurricanes last year helped drive up prices for materials.

“Everything’s gone up,” East said. “Concrete has gone up, sheetrock has gone up, metal has gone up and fuel costs have gone up, which affects almost everything. Some of it is the effect of the Katrina factor in there. It’s not just one thing. It’s everything’s gone up.”

To cut costs, the number of corporate luxury suites has been cut from 26 to 24, Hays said. Another reduction will involve the drainage system for the playing field. East said other cuts include different elevator interiors, security fencing and concrete paving at the main entryway.

East said the stadium will still look nice and that fans will enjoy going there.

“We’ve not had to cut it to bare bones at all,” East said.