Nationals Finish Last in Standings; Park Places First

Thu October 16, 2008 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero



While the Washington Nationals finished in last place in the National League East standings, the team’s new ballpark, Nationals Park, holds the distinction of being the fastest built park in history. In addition, it is the first professional sports stadium in the United States to achieve any sort of LEED certification (LEED Silver). LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The stadium is located in the southeast section of Washington, D.C., approximately 1 mi. south of the U.S. Capitol. It was designed to fit in with the “limestone-and-glass” look that has been used on many of the buildings in the area. However, the ballpark’s “limestone” is actually pre-cast concrete.

In previous years, the 21-acre footprint of the ballpark included warehouses, parking lots, asphalt plants, auto repair garages, five residences, and nightclubs. In 2005, everything was seized by eminent domain.

Ground was broken for the project in May 2006, and it was completed in time for opening night on March 30, 2008, when the Nationals beat the Braves by a score of 3 to 2.

The full dollar amount for the project totaled $611 million, with $400 million of that figure going to construction costs. The job was publicly funded by the District of Columbia as part of a deal that brought the former Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C. Currently, the park is owned by the city and operated by the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission.

The contract called for a 41,000-seat major league baseball park. Work was completed by Clark/Hunt/Smoot, a Joint Venture, led by Gregory Colevas, division president of Clark Construction Group.

The finished stadium includes a total of 41,888 seats, with 22,000 in the lower bowl, 2,500 club seats, and 12,100 upper level seats. Two club lounges also offer 1,800 seats in two indoor locations, the Founders Club includes 500 seats, and the Diamond Club includes 1,300 seats. A total of 1,112 additional seats are available in 78 suites.

The stadium also includes 28,000 sq. ft. of concession stands, 7,700 sq. ft. of retail and novelty outlets, and a 15,000 sq. ft. family entertainment area called the Strike Zone.

Jennifer Schirm, manager of client and community relations of Clark Construction Group LLC, noted that one of the challenges with this particular job was a very short schedule.

“It was a design-build project,” Schirm said. “Design-build is always a challenge, but it was even more of a challenge because of the fast pace. We were literally designing in the field. We joke that it was a ’build-design’ project, rather than a design-build.”

Even so, Schirm noted that the project was completed in record time.

“As a comparison, the Yankees new ballpark started around the same time, and they have an entire extra year to build,” she said. “It was the fastest built ballpark in history, and it is the first professional sports stadium in the U.S. to achieve any sort of LEED Certification.”

Along with the LEED certification came another challenge for contractors.

“We didn’t find out we’d be going for LEED until six months into the project, so it was very difficult to do the documentation,” Schirm explained. “We were attempting [a] LEED Certified [status], but ended up doing even better and getting LEED Silver.”

During the project a large amount of contaminated soil was discovered, and half of the excavated soil had to be remediated. As a result, the ballpark uses five large sand filters to filter out any groundwater that may come to the surface.

Throughout the project, a total of 340,948 cu. yd. (260,673 cu m) of soil was excavated. Since a typical truck can hold about 25,000 lbs. (11,340 kg) of dirt, or 10 cu. yd. (7.6 cu m), this resulted in about 34,095 truck loads, according to Schirm. Approximately 4,500 cu. yd. (3,440 cu m) of dirt was removed each day, or about 450 truckloads per day.

There were approximately 185,087 cu. yd. (141,509 cu m) of contaminated soil. Schirm explained that the soil was contaminated by old underground oil tanks, which had to be cleaned and then sent to a landfill.

There were approximately 2,421 cu. yd. (1,851 cu m) of hazardous soil.

The job involved driving a total of approximately 2,400 piles at 55 ft. (16.8 m), which equals 25 mi. (40.2 km). There were approximately 105 piles per mile.

There are approximately 80 sewer tanks on the site, and the completed building includes about 3,500 pieces of steel in the bowl structure, or 7,800 tons (7,076 t).

According to Schirm, the heaviest precast unit weighed 55,000 lbs. (24,947 kg). For those that were cast in place, approximately 58,000 cu. yd. (44,344 cu m) of concrete was used.

The Life Safety sprinkler system consists of 65,000 ft. (19,812 m) of pipe, one fire pump, 25 to 30 wet sprinkler systems, six to seven dry sprinkler systems, two pre-action systems, and approximately 7,000 sprinkler heads.

For the mechanical systems, approximately 9 mi. (14.5 km) of pipe was used for the project. It also includes 600,000 lbs. (272,155 kg) of mechanical ducts and 110 types of plumbing fixtures. For the electrical systems, more than 3 million ft. (914,400 m) of power wire was used. A total of 714,000 watts of light are utilized, the equivalent of 11,900 60-watt bulbs. It took 180,000 hours of manpower to install the electrical systems. The stadium will use 14,000 lights.

Major subcontractors for the project included Clark Concrete Contractors, Bethesda, Md., for the cast in place concrete; John J. Kirlin LLC, Rockville, Md., for the mechanical and plumbing; Truland Systems Corporation, Reston, Md., for the electrical work; Banker Steel, Lynchburg, Va., for the structural steel; and R.W. Sidley Inc., Thompson, Ohio, for the structural precast concrete.

Major equipment included two Manitowoc 2250T cranes for erection of the structural precast seating tubs and structural steel. CEG