Fans of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League soon will have a brand-new place to watch their favorite club, thanks to one of the country’s largest construction firms. Stuart Olson Dominion Construction is serving as the general contractor on the $190 million new Winnipeg Stadium facility on a portion of the University of Manitoba campus.
The 33,500-seat, 550,000-square-foot facility will replace Canad Inns Stadium, the Blue Bombers’ home since 1953.
“This is really a football city; they love their team here,” says Ossama Abouzeid, project manager for BBB Stadium Inc., the owners’ representatives. “The existing stadium has outlived its practical life and we needed to do something; [Canad Inns Stadium] doesn’t have the amenities that other stadiums in Canada have.”
The stadium also will host home games of the Manitoba Bison, the University of Winnipeg’s football team.
A study of the existing stadium a few years ago indicated it would cost more than $50 million to replace, prompting team owners and owner stakeholders to examine new construction, says Richard Graumann, project director for Stuart Olson Dominion.
BBB Stadium Inc. is an amalgamation of the project’s major stakeholders: the Blue Bombers Football Club, the city of Winnipeg, the province of Manitoba and the University of Manitoba. The province of Manitoba is guaranteeing funding on the project subject to repayment from the football club, Graumann adds.
Substantial construction on the site began in December 2010. Foundation work is underway, with piling nearly complete, Graumann says.
Stuart Olson Dominion is contracted to complete the project before September 2012, but is targeting early completion in June 2012, in time for the CFL’s 2012 season.
The stadium’s lower bowl will consist of 25,000 cubic meters of cast-in-place concrete, with structural steel supports and precast risers above that. The structure will ultimately feature four levels, including three seating levels. The building’s exterior will feature a combination of masonry, glass and aluminum composite panels.
Approximately 2,000 cubic meters of foundation concrete are already in place. Support columns and a cast-in-place concrete foundation structure are now coming out of the ground, with structural steel work and precast riser installation on track to begin in May.
The new stadium will feature a number of distinctive features including a sunken playing surface and a curved roof structure. Supported by two, 590 foot span structural steel arches, the stadium and its unique roof configuration will be immediately recognizable as a Winnipeg landmark. The field is approximately 25 below the main floor concourse, a feature that will in part allow for better sight lines and unobstructed views from the main floor concourse, Graumann reports.
“One of the negative aspects of the existing stadium is that it is built from grade level up, and what that results in is all sorts of accessibility issues,” he adds.
A corkscrew-shaped ramp in the existing stadium winding from the upper concourse exacerbates the access issue, as it is difficult for fans to climb and becomes quickly congested after games. The new stadium will feature wider, gently sloping ramps, a reduced travel distance from grade to the upper decks and a number of elevators, greatly enhancing access.
The below-grade field also offers clearer, unblocked views from the new concourse. “The entire concourse is wide-open to view; you could be standing at the concession stand enjoying a beverage and watching the action from there,” Graumann says.
“You won’t miss any of the action while you’re getting your popcorn.”
The stadium’s curved roof will cover roughly 80 percent of the seating area. An air-supported dome will be used during the winter months to completely enclose the stadium, allowing for year-round use for special events, amateur sports teams and University of Manitoba programs, Graumann says.
Stuart Olson Dominion is applying the integrated project delivery method to the project, working closely with architects, owners’ representatives and subcontractors during all phases.
“We’ve worked collaboratively through the entire design and construction process, fast tracking RFI’s, shop drawings and approvals, and always being mindful of the targeted completion date,” Graumann says.
The project’s design phase progressed on a rapid schedule, with project approval, designs and budget approval all occurring in a four-month period.
“What is amazing about this project is what was achieved in such an incredibly short time frame,” he adds. “This could only have been achieved through the utmost commitment to schedule by the integrated project teams, trade contractors and all stakeholders.”
The architect of record on the project is Raymond S.C. Wan Architect of Winnipeg. Stuart Olson Dominion’s project manager on site is Mike Clynes. Clynes says he is undaunted by the tight construction time frame and attributes the present progress onsite to the professionalism of the construction team. “In my 30 years of experience with fast track construction projects, I have never worked with a better group of people,” he adds.
“Stuart Olson Dominion has assembled a team of the very best and most talented people in the construction industry to deliver the desired results on a very difficult, monumental, and time constrained project. It gives me great pleasure to lead such a fine and experienced group.
“If you set high expectations and clearly communicate them, if you lead by example, and if you truly belive in greatness from your team members, they will always prove themselves to be great,” he adds.
Abouzeid says the integrated project delivery process has been beneficial to all parties involved.
“We’re all sitting together to make sure the end project will meet everyone’s needs, budget and schedule,” he says. “Stuart Olson Dominion has brought everyone together on this project and produced a budget we can live with.”
In addition to regularly communicating with the project team, BBB Stadium Inc. is representing the stadium’s two end-users – the Blue Bombers and Bison football teams.
“We’re carrying on their requests to the designers and contractors and working to control their expectations and requests,” Abouzeid adds.
“We’re making sure decisions are being made in a timely fashion so construction is not affected.”
The integrated project delivery approach has also allowed Stuart Olson and its partners to better handle project challenges including the tight construction schedule and harsh winters.
While construction is now entering its first spring season, weather-related concerns remain. “We’re now facing the potential of a spring flood, as we’ve had record snowfalls this winter and expect high water levels in the rivers,” Graumann says.
Crews are implementing a flood preparedness plan including mobilizing dewatering equipment and constructing water runoff measures including an outfall line that will provide drainage from the site to the Red River. “We’re working extended shifts to complete the outfall system so it’s available to us when spring floods hit,” he adds.
In addition, the project’s piling contractor has mobilized five piling rigs and partnered with other local, competing companies to use their equipment in order to complete piles. A total of 2,000 steel piles will be placed on the site.
One key partner in the site assessment process is consulting firm AMEC. AMEC has provided geotechnical engineering services for the new Winnipeg Stadium project since 2009. Services have included detailed site investigations, foundation evaluations, groundwater assessments, assessment of optimum field level and settlement pile/downdrag evaluations.
Since construction began in January, AMEC has also provided materials testing services and pile installation monitoring, including provision of dynamic pile analysis, in order to verify capacity of the high capacity driven steel piles.
Stuart Olson Dominion credits its subcontractors’ adherence to their stringent safety policies for keeping the work site safe. Each trade on the project is responsible for supervising their own safety program as well as following Stuart Olson Dominion guidelines.
Graumann says the project shows the importance of a committed team. “Whether the client group, stakeholders, design team, general contractors or major trades – you’re only going to achieve your budget, schedule and quality objectives when you work together with the same goal in sight,” he says.
“I’ve seen a total commitment from all trade contractors and key suppliers across the board,” Graumann adds.