SPENCER, Ind. (AP) Hundreds of panels of southern Indiana limestone have been making their way to New York, where they are forming the new Yankee Stadium’s outer facade.
Indiana Limestone Fabricators has already shipped more than 600 stone panels, each 5 by 3 ft. (1.5 by 0.9 m) to the Bronx for the new $800 million stadium, set to open for the 2009 season.
Work continues at the company on preparing the stadium’s 93,000 sq. ft. (8,600 sq m) of limestone from Empire Quarry in Oolitic, about 20 mi. south of Bloomington. The stadium’s stone is coming just a few hundred yards from that quarried for the Empire State Building in 1931.
Among the company’s work is carving the words Yankee Stadium in letters 4 feet high into the stone to go above three entrances. A computer-controlled machine carves the letters, which are later embossed in gold leaf, company President Brad Mobley said while standing almost ankle deep in limestone dust at his shop.
“The letters are cleaned up and finished by hand, but this process has saved a ton of manual labor hours,” Mobley said.
The Yankee Stadium work is a more than $1 million project for Mobley’s company, which he started in Bedford in 1995. It is among the signs that business has improved in recent years for southern Indiana’s limestone industry, such as several new buildings going up on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington.
“One of our main strong points has been and is the education market,” said Jim Owens, executive director of the Indiana Limestone Institute of America. “We’re also seeing a lot of business in housing … with high-end residential building using limestone, a lot of it out East and down South.”
Mobley said his father and uncle both worked at limestone quarries before business faded in the 1970s as more glass and precast concrete was used in construction.
“But those glass and concrete buildings didn’t end up performing as well as the architects had hoped,” Mobley said. “There were leaks and structural problems. And they’d look across the street and see the older limestone buildings doing just fine.”
While Mobley’s baseball allegiances have been with the Cincinnati Reds and later the Chicago Cubs, “I’m going to have to root for the Yankees, too.”