Manhattan Construction Company Makes The Star in Frisco a Reality
Like the belle of the ball who is constantly surrounded by an entourage of doting men waiting to offer her a supportive arm, bring her a cocktail from the bar, or pull out her chair, The Star in Frisco's every unfolding detail elicits an excited flurry of attention from the media, the traveling public curious about the construction along the northwest corner of Warren Parkway and the Dallas North Tollway, and the millions of Dallas Cowboys fans worldwide.
"Everyone has a certain amount of Cowboy mystique," said Wesley Weaver, Vice President over the Dallas region of Manhattan Construction Company, the general contractor for the project.
Considering the amount of economic development the project has already stimulated, and its promise as a strong community partner, The Star in Frisco is definitely worthy of the attention, whether or not one is a Cowboys fan.
A public-private partnership between the Dallas Cowboys, the City of Frisco and the Frisco Independent School District, The Star in Frisco is a 91-acre mixed-use development that will be home to the Cowboys' world headquarters and training center, outdoor practice fields, a 12,000-seat multi-use event center and 66 acres of private retail development, including the luxury Omni Frisco Hotel.
Like moths to a flame, or paparazzi to celebrities, development has been swarming around The Star since its inception.
The one-mile stretch of the Dallas North Tollway where it is being constructed has been dubbed the $5 Billion Mile, but like the sign at McDonald's with the number of customers served, that moniker became outdated almost as soon as it became part of the Texas vernacular.
The Frisco Economic Development Corporation (FEDC) based the original $5 billion in part on Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' $1 billion estimate for The Star. Jones has since stated that number has since risen to a possible $2 or $3 billion, and will rise according to the amount of private development that is secured.
According to the FEDC, the other projects within the mile that warrant the $5 Billion status are Frisco Station ($1.7 billion), The Gate ($700 million) and Wade Park ($2 billion).
"It's hard for people to comprehend, if they're not from around here, to fully appreciate the amount of investment that is going on in this area," said Greg Wood, Sales Manager for Ford Motor Co.'s Dallas region. "It's very impressive, and we are proud to be part of a key component of it."
Ford and the Texas Ford Dealers have a 10-year sponsorship extension and naming rights agreement with the Cowboys for the headquarters, training center, outdoor practice fields and multi-use event center portions of The Star in Frisco to be called The Ford Center at The Star. (see sidebar)
A Project Much More Than Steel and Concrete
Naturally, with fall in the air, anything related to America's Team tends to get one's adrenaline pumping and heart racing.
Manhattan's Weaver, who lives about 15 minutes from The Star, said he is eager to see the Dallas Cowboys practice at the facility when it opens next August.
"From my house to Valley Ranch (where the Cowboys currently practice) is about an hour away, so I don't often get the opportunity to go," he said. "Now I'll get to see them practice, and with the multi-purpose entertainment venue, there will also be concerts and other events right at my back door."
Weaver is definitely proud to be building the signature project that will not only be a highlight of the Dallas skyline for decades to come, but one that will also be an integral part of the community.
The Cowboys, the City of Frisco and the Frisco ISD devised the development as a place "where health and wellness and exercise and fitness are modeled and demonstrated," according to Frisco ISD Superintendent Jeremy Lyon.
When the project was named The Star back in November 2014, Cowboys officials said the five points of the team's famed logo represent key traits of the development: performance, amateur competition, health and wellness, engagement, and entertainment.
In addition to Cowboys training and high school football events, Frisco ISD is planning to use the facilities for other events such as soccer matches or marching band competitions. Superintendent Lyon is also looking for partners throughout the private development for the district's independent study and mentoring program. The Cowboys brand, along with the team's history of supporting youth programs, is certainly helping to attract development.
"This project means a lot to me, personally, because my kids are in Frisco ISD and may one day be playing football or soccer in this stadium," Weaver said. "At Manhattan we always strive to do our best and exceed expectations when building for our clients, but a project like this doesn't happen everyday. Knowing that, one day, I will go there as a dad and watch my children play there gives me more than a normal sense of pride."
The project is also significant for the entirety of Manhattan because it represents the continuance of the good relationship the company developed with the Cowboys when building the team's current home, the AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
"It's also an opportunity for us to develop new partnerships with Frisco and Frisco ISD," Weaver added. "Getting the first buildings up in the now-famed $5 Billion Mile means a lot for the company."
Closely Watched Construction
Manhattan broke ground on the project August 22, 2014. From the start, meeting the deadline has been a constant challenge.
"When you are going to play a football or soccer game or hold training camp, you've got a fixed end date, and those dates never move because they are scheduled so far in advance," Weaver said.
Early in the project, the contractor lost 43 workdays due to rain, ice or snow.
"When you lose multiple days like that, you sit down with everyone on the team, start looking at activities and working with sub contractors to see what you can do to recover and re-sequence the work," Weaver said. "You start working some activities on weekends. You also look at where it's feasible to start activities earlier than anticipated, along with manpower loading and coordinating/sequencing of construction."
Roughly 60 subcontractors and a total workforce of 575 people are on the job six days a week.
Manhattan holds four separate construction manager-at-risk contracts for construction of the 435,000-square-foot headquarters, the 284,000-square-foot Omni hotel, the 557,881-square-foot event center, the parking garage, and the 178,000 square feet of retail space.
Weaver said he couldn't give an overall contract value for Manhattan's entire project, as all of the components haven't yet been finalized. However, the event center and parking garage alone cost about $252 million.
The CM-at-risk contract allowed a great deal of collaboration with the owners and design team for six to eight months in advance of construction, ensuring a project that meets owner satisfaction, Weaver added.
The headquarters, event center and parking garage are situated on approximately 26 of the overall 91-acre development.
The six-story corporate headquarters building will house the football club's operations and will overlook the indoor practice facility and outdoor fields.
When the project was first underway in August 2014, the traveling public couldn't see much construction activity because the practice fields and basement level of the garage were about 20 feet below grade, Weaver explained.
"Once it popped up at street level, excitement about the project grew," he said. "When we were building the structures for the event center and headquarters, we had eight tower cranes operating on the two projects."
The cranes on the event center came down around April, but four tower cranes remain for work on the headquarters, hotel and parking garage.
Concrete pours for the stadium seating risers were completed in April, and workers began to install the event center's exterior skin in May. By September, installation of the headquarters' exterior precast and glass had begun.
Installation of the 12 trusses that will comprise the domed stadium event center began on July 20. Each truss spans about 400 feet and weighs approximately 100 tons.
"The trusses are being installed using conventional crawler cranes with shoring towers beneath them," Weaver said. "The final trusses will be done around Thanksgiving."
"Our next major milestones will be December of this year, when we'll be completely dried in on both buildings and will get permanent air to allow work on interior finishes to begin," Weaver said.