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Red Bull Arena Zips Toward 2010 Finish

Fri November 06, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Mary Reed

The venue will become the new home of a Major League Soccer team, the New York Red Bulls, owned by the Austrian energy drink manufacturer Red Bull GmbH. The team is currently based in the Giants’ stad
The venue will become the new home of a Major League Soccer team, the New York Red Bulls, owned by the Austrian energy drink manufacturer Red Bull GmbH. The team is currently based in the Giants’ stad

For years naysayers said it would never come to pass.

Yet within a year there will be numerous passes — in soccer games, that is — when the Red Bull Arena, now rising in Harrison, N.J., is completed.

Situated across the Passaic River from Newark, N.J., Harrison is a working class town whose population is keenly interested in following and playing soccer. The venue will become the new home of a Major League Soccer team, the New York Red Bulls, owned by the Austrian energy drink manufacturer Red Bull GmbH. The team is currently based in the Giants’ stadium in New Jersey.

Red Bulls’ fans will find games easy to attend, since the stadium is located near the Jackson Street Bridge to Newark and will be accessible from both Interstate 280 and the NJ Turnpike. A Port Authority Trans-Hudson Authority (PATH) station is nearby and New York’s Penn Station somewhat further off, although still within reasonable distance.

The site is an abandoned brownfield that formerly housed factories once employing a total of 150,000 workers. As a result, much of the delay in getting the project under way was caused by environmental concerns and the necessary clean-up operations. However, a groundbreaking ceremony was finally performed on Sept. 19, 2006, and construction is on schedule for the anticipated completion in 2010.

General contractor for the project is the Hunter Roberts Construction Group, based in New York City. The stadium design incorporates a number of fan-friendly features. For example, the positioning of the first row of seating will mean those occupying that area will be only 2l ft. from the pitch’s touchlines. Other planned amenities include two retail outlets, more than 300 flat screen panels on which the game can be viewed, more than 60 concession stands and 20 vendor carts, not to mention four or five ATM machines. At full capacity the stadium will contain approximately 25,000 spectators.

Structal-Heavy Steel Construction, a member of Quebec-based Canam Group, was awarded the $30 million (Canadian) structural steel contract. Headquartered in Point of Rocks, Md., the company fabricated the steel at its Maryland plant, assisted by the Canam Group’s Quebec facility at St. Gédéon de Beauce.

Fabrication began in these plants on May 1, 2008, and was completed on Feb. 13, 2009.

“We specialize in the design and fabrication of heavy structural steel components for complex, large-scale construction projects in North America for general contractors, engineering firms and building owners,” said Luc Pelland, president of Structal-Heavy Steel Construction.

“Over the years Structal-Heavy Steel Construction has been involved in the construction of 52 stadiums, arenas and sports complex in North America, including Citi Field, New Yankee Stadium, New Meadowlands Stadium, the Consol Energy Center for the Penguins of Pittsburgh, and of course the Red Bull Arena. We’ve just been awarded the contract to build the new retractable roof of the Florida Marlins’ ballpark,” said Pelland. “Recently, the Newseum in Washington, D.C., won an award in the architectural category, and Structal-Heavy Steel Construction was the steel contractor for the project.

“Our contract for Red Bull Arena was for the design-assist, fabrication, project erection and project management of the steel structure of the new arena. Currently, there are only small erection details to finalize, and approximately 20 people remain on site,” he added. “We can fairly say that in 10 months over 6,000 tons of steel components were detailed, fabricated and delivered.”

Stonebridge Steel Erection Company Inc., headquartered in South Plainfield, N.J., works primarily in New Jersey and New York, including Manhattan, as well as Connecticut and Pennsylvania. It erects approximately 40,000 tons (36,287 t) of steel per year depending on the market. For this project the company was responsible not only for structural steel erection, but also for hollow core plank, the latter supplied by Conewago Enterprises Inc., based in Hanover, Pa.

“In addition, Stonebridge erected all of the upper bowl support steel for the Southern Bleacher Company in Graham, Texas, which was contracted to supply and erect the upper bowl bleachers. The support steel was steel and the bleacher system itself was aluminum. Canam also fabricated and we erected all the secondary steel required to support the fabric roof and facade supplied and erected by Birdair Inc.,” Mike Davis, vice president of Stonebridge, said.

As mentioned, stadium seating will be covered by a fabric canopy, approximately half of which will be formed of translucent material, leaving the playing field itself open to the sky. This will aid the growth of the grass pitch.

Installation of the canopy over the seating is being carried out by Birdair Inc., of Buffalo, N.Y. The company specializes in lightweight long-span roofing and will fabricate and install both the roof, featuring three types of tensile membrane, and the cladding system. It began work at the stadium in April 2009 and installed the first of 90 roof panels on May 7. The expected completion date for its part of the overall project is November 2009.

Stonebridge has performed approximately 99 percent of work on its contract, with all structural steel work including hollow core plank completed as well as upper bowl support steel and secondary steel for fabric.

Erection began on Aug. 20, 2008, with base erection completed on schedule on March 31, 2009.

“Stonebridge used four cranes to erect everything at Red Bull Stadium. Two of the cranes were owned by Stonebridge,” said Davis. “One was a 140-ton Link-Belt truck crane, model HC-238A. It was configured conventionally with 160 feet of main boom and 45 feet of jib. The second Stonebridge-owned crane was an 82-ton truck crane, model HC-218. It was configured conventionally with 150 feet of main boom and 45 feet of jib.”

A 999 Manitowoc in series 3 with 120 ft. (36.5 m) of main boom and 120 ft. of luffing boom and a 888 Manitowoc in series 2 with 120 ft. of main boom and 120 ft. of luffing boom were rented by Stonebridge specifically for this project.

“If one is not willing to solve problems, steel erection is not the right occupation. Steel erection requires the solution of one problem after another from start to finish,” said Davis, a 42-year veteran of this particular branch of construction. “Due to the unique design of the stadium, special erection procedures had to be developed to ensure the structural integrity of the building as it was erected and special procedures developed to minimize tolerance allowances as the design was such that tolerances accumulated.

“In other words, a slight deviation at level one would have resulted in that and the next deviation at the second level. These ’stacked up’ tolerances ultimately would have resulted in accumulated tolerances at the top that were unacceptable. Special plumbing and guying procedures along with repetitive survey surveillance obtained the results we needed and wanted.”

Davis praised the Canam Group for the ability and resources to manage large complex projects such as Red Bull Stadium.

“From the leadership provided by vice president, operations, United States, Bill Muchesko, and Eric Levesque in Point of Rocks, to Annie Brunelle in Canada, along with many unnamed, I cannot say enough about them,” he said.

A traditional topping-out ceremony on April 14, 2009, saw placement of the flag- and tree-decorated final steel beam in a celebration attended by a number of dignitaries, including major league soccer commissioner Don Garber and Raymond McDonough, mayor of Harrison. CEG

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