Thursday, September 06, 2001

Ballpark rainy-day fund shrinks

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Construction managers at Great American Ball Park are projecting that change orders and other costs have eaten $4.7 million of their $18 million contingency budget, with less than 20 percent of the job finished.

        Contingency funds, established on construction projects to cover unanticipated costs, are being projected for changes to construction contracts and overtime to get three key pieces of the project back on schedule — steel superstructure, north garage superstructure and the ballpark superstructure.

        Great American Ball Park is to be ready for Opening Day 2003.

        Project Manager Arnie Rosenberg said much of the projected $4.7 million is tied to speeding up construction. And with 19 months of work before the ballpark opens, there is a chance the contingency funds won't cover costs.

        “We need sufficient contingency throughout the entire project,” Mr. Rosenberg said.

        So do they have it?

        “We're in the process of analyzing that,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “I'm not in a position to say right now. The changes are higher than we'd like to see.”

        Changes to contracts were the primary reason Paul Brown Stadium finished $50 million over budget. But unlike the football stadium, anything over $280 million for Great American Ball Park will be covered by the Reds.

        Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune said he's not confident that the county will be able to control construction costs at the ballpark. He noted that the construction auditor still has not started work. “I'm not comfortable with the lay of the land as it stands on Sept. 5, 2001,” Mr. Portune said.

        The county began advertising for a construction auditor in April. It hired the New York firm KPMG in June.

        Consulting attorney Tom Gabelman said the delay has been caused by the auditing firm demanding a limit on its liability.

        “They're also providing advisory and consulting services,” Mr. Gabelman said. “We've gone back and forth with them. If we're unable to resolve that, we'll have to move to the second firm” that bid on the job.

        Meanwhile, risers that will hold the concourses are in place and the slab supporting the lower seating bowl is taking shape.
       In addition, steel risers that will support the scoreboard and the upper deck are in place.


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