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Springfield Contractor Lassos Illinois Arena Construction

Sat February 19, 2000 - Midwest Edition
Cindy Ladage

Illinois Governor George Ryan approved building an open-air arena/amphitheater in Springfield, IL. The arena is located on part of the Illinois State Fair Grounds and is being constructed near the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) building. The IDOA is working with contractors on this project that will have a longtime impact on the agricultural entertainment industry in Illinois for years to come.

The first event at the new amphitheater will be the 2000 National High School Rodeo Championship.

Construction on the arena started in late August 1999, and completion is scheduled for June 1, 2000. This immense project is chugging along on track. Springfield, IL-based contractor Siciliano Inc. landed the nearly $2.5-million contract to construct the new grandstand.

Jack Young of Siciliano Inc. said, “We are in the process of installing the footings and columns and raker beams for the precast plank to set on.”

The precast planks for the bleachers will sit on top of the substructure that Young described. A-Van-Step Concrete Products Company built the planks. The biggest deterrent to completing the project is battling winter weather to complete the concrete work. So far, so good. Central Illinois has proved to have mostly mild temperatures and clear days this winter. Several days the temperature has hovered near the 50-degree mark.

In addition to the bleachers, Young said that they also are building concession stands and restrooms to complete the observer stands. A fence will surround the entire area, the stands and the arena. Siciliano Inc. was pleased that the state of Illinois chose local contractors for the job. Young said that when working for the state, they always use domestic material also.

The stands are immense. Young said, the stands are about 300 feet by 110 feet. Another contract for the actual amphitheater went to Evans Construction for close to $2.6 million. Siciliano Inc. started its portion of the contract in December, and Evans Construction began work on the arena in late August of 1999.

Jack Young said that so far this year, the most challenging part of the contract is meeting the schedule and trying to get all the contractors together. Other prime contractors are Egizii Electric Company, Petersburg Plumbing and Heating Company and Automatic Fire Sprinkler Co.

One of the most interesting aspects of this construction project is the unusual type of roof construction called a Tension Membrane Canopy. This system is made up of a steel column and truss support system. “This is a new type of roof system,” said Young. “It is like a great big parachute.”

Young said he has only heard of this type of roof on one other building, the new Denver airport. Springfield contractors will be busy at the Illinois State Fairgrounds this winter and spring completing what could be the biggest draw of the 2000 fair season.

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