Arlington’s Stunning New Globe Life Field a Home Run in Stadium Design
A New Home for the Rangers: Globe Life Field, a Modern Baseball Experience, Opens Next Month in Arlington
The Globe Life Park in Arlington has had a good run for the last quarter century, hosting more than 2,000 regular-season games for the Texas Rangers. But starting next month, the North Texas-based franchise will play on new home turf at Globe Life Field, a bigger and more modern facility designed to give baseball fans an immersive entertainment experience.
The $1.2 billion ballpark is being developed under a public-private partnership agreement between the City of Arlington and the Rangers. Two firms trusted with building the original stadium that opened in 1994 are spearheading this iconic project: HKS, Inc. (design architect) and Manhattan Construction Company (construction manager).
“For us, the new Texas Rangers ballpark development is very special. It carries its own rich identity based on a combination of tradition, heritage, character and ambition that will ultimately represent itself as the premier destination in North Texas,” says Bryan Trubey, Executive Vice President of HKS and Principal Designer on the project.
Jim Cuddihee, Vice President of Operations at Manhattan Construction, says this latest stadium is a testament to his firm’s long-term commitment to clients. “The Globe Life Field project is special to Manhattan because it is part of a 28-year relationship of serving the Texas Rangers organization,” he shares. “Our Manhattan family of builders has maintained our relationship with the Rangers, and over the years, we have provided multiple enhancements to the original stadium, including home plate renovations, club spaces, and the Vandergriff Plaza to name a few. We have team members at Manhattan and in the subcontracting base on the job site today that also worked on the original stadium.”
The official groundbreaking for Globe Life Field took place on September 28, 2017. The nearly two-and-a-half-year project is expected to wrap up next month in time for the Rangers to play the St. Louis Cardinals in an exhibition game on March 23 and the Los Angeles Angels in the regular-season home opener on March 31. It is estimated the project will exceed 6 million man hours upon its completion.
Strategies for Efficiency, Safety
At the height of construction over 1,500 workers were present at Globe Life Field, performing various tasks throughout the 1.8-billion-square-foot stadium. The project has required tight coordination for a diverse fleet of heavy machinery, including about two dozen cranes provided by Maxim Crane Works, the largest crane supplier in the country. In total, the development called for the erection of more than 35,000 tons of steel and an additional 2,100 pieces of precast concrete.
A building project of this magnitude naturally presents many challenges, which is one reason a modular construction approach was employed. Because many of the stadium components are built off-site in a climate-controlled factory environment, this method decreases the risk of on-site accidents and related liabilities for workers. Modular construction is also proven to reduce project schedules, enhance quality control, generate less waste and create fewer site disturbances, among other advantages.
The incorporation of precast concrete elements offers another means of accelerating construction. “Precast concrete was used in the lower stadium bowl, including the structural columns, rakers and risers,” Cuddihee says. “This gave us improved quality control and a more efficient schedule because we could have precast pieces made at the same time outside of the structure, then move them in and install them. This is also a safer method than poured-in-place concrete.”
The decision to use precast brick on the building exterior bolsters project safety as well. “We would make large panels off-site and truck them in and use a crane to set them,” Cuddihee explains. “With the increased quality control, the inlaid brick panels provided a matched look to the traditional hand-laid brick on the inside.” Approximately 1 million bricks covering more than 216,000 square feet will compose the exterior of Globe Life Field, including 55,500 square feet of precast brick.
Various innovative technologies have been utilized to boost productivity as well as monitor project activities. A few noteworthy examples include Procore for project management and document control; StructionSite for photo documentation; drones for logistics and planning; and Trimble’s CrewSight to enhance safety and security on the job site.
Colossal Retractable Roof an Architectural Marvel
From an architectural perspective, the crowning jewel of this cutting-edge complex is its massive 268,000-square-foot retractable roof system – the first of its kind in Major League Baseball. For perspective, the operable roof at the neighboring AT&T Stadium spans 104,960 square feet, making the retractable portion of the roof at Globe Life Field 150 percent larger than that of the Cowboys’ home.
The ballpark’s roof will operate on a mechanism similar to a railroad track, moving about 39 feet every minute to fully retract in about 15 minutes. At 100 pounds per foot and 1,750 total feet of rail length, the operable roof sits on the second-largest crane rail in the world. Uni-Systems Engineering created the mechanization used for this system.
Globe Life Field not only features one of the largest retractable roofs in the nation, but also one of the heaviest. The entire structure contains approximately 19,000 tons of steel, with the operable portion consisting of five steel trusses that, combined, weigh 9,600 tons. A single-panel design scheme was used for the retractable section, which makes the system more efficient and weathertight compared to roofs with multiple functional pieces.
To maintain an outdoor ambiance, over 120,900 square feet of the roof structure will be covered in panels made of ethylene tetraflouroethylene (ETFE), a highly transparent material similar to Teflon. Lightweight yet durable, this plastic polymer is also being incorporated along concourses to allow natural sunlight to filter into the building.
A Need for Diverse Expertise …
An expert team was assembled to coordinate and perform the complex roof erection, including Stanley D. Lindsey & Associates, Ltd. (SDL), W&W Steel, Lucid Engineers and Enerpac, a wholly owned subsidiary of Enerpac Tool Group.
SDL, as erection engineer, designed the temporary steel required to support the stadium structure until it was completed as well as all of the crane configurations, rigging designs and critical lift sheets. W&W Steel fabricated each piece of structural steel for the roof, performed the ground assemblies and then lifted each piece into place using a Manitowoc 31000, the largest American-made crawler crane. Lucid Engineers collaborated with SDL to help develop the lift rigging plans and Enerpac supplied a unique sling adjustor for below-the-hook positioning of the heavy loads.
… to Overcome Logistical Obstacles …
The roof structure contains 33 trusses, each one weighing between 900,000 and 1.5 million pounds. To ease construction, the project team assembled the enormous steel members on the ground. “The retractable roof design requires very long structural steel spans – 600-plus linear feet in the case of Globe Life Field. There is not a crane large enough to lift that long of a span at once, so it was constructed in segments that were lifted into place one at a time,” Cuddihee explains.
A sea of project activities, including crane lifts for bowl steel and precast elements, have taken place simultaneously inside the stadium bowl. The logistical coordination required within such limited site constraints is a feat unto itself. To meet schedule demands, the erector constructed and lifted the main truss segments within the bowl, then moved each completed roof truss to the west end of the stadium so that they could be tied together outside of the bowl.
SDL developed an analytical model of the hundreds of stages of the construction process to ensure that day-to-day variables, such as the potential for windstorms, were factored into the erection plan as necessary. In addition, the firm created a 4-D Navisworks model of all of heavy equipment locations on the project to ascertain space and time pinch points of other crane activities.
The roof erection plan maximized the capacity of the 3,000-ton Manitowoc 31000. “We had some picks that were up to 97 percent of its capacity, so we were using every bit of it,” says Will Jacobs V, PE, SE, Principal and Director of Erection Engineering at SDL. His firm calculated the sail area and weight of each individual truss section, and worked directly with Manitowoc’s engineers to determine the allowable pick wind speeds. “In order to feel comfortable lifting so close to the crane’s capacity, we had to make sure we had the center of gravity and the weight of each pick extremely close. We included things like the paint weight, which normally doesn’t seem like a big deal, but on some of these trusses the weight of the paint was in the 10,000-pound range.”
… and Offer Sophisticated Solutions
Traditionally, the geometric positioning of heavy loads in a horizontal and vertical plane is done using multiple cranes. Synchronizing movements between the machines can be difficult, even for the most experienced equipment operators. Lifting errors can potentially result in damaged loads or put workers at risk.
To manipulate the roof trusses at Globe Life Field, however, only one crane was necessary thanks to Enerpac’s Synchronous Hoist System, or SyncHoist System, a hydraulic-powered crane attachment that can be wirelessly controlled by a single operator. “The precision needed to place the enormous trusses into place wouldn’t be possible without the heavy lifting technology that Enerpac brings to the table,” states company President Jeff Schmaling. “This first-of-its-kind setup allows the steel contractor to control a piece of steel some 200 feet in the air and precisely position it down to millimeters – all from an iPad-like screen on the ground.”
Enerpac Product Line Director Pete Crisci explains the standalone system is unique because it is designed to be used in line with construction rigging. “It operates at 10,000 psi hydraulics, which is typically much higher than any onboard hydraulics a crane would have,” he notes. “The use of high-pressure hydraulics keeps the size of the cylinder smaller and lighter so we can generate more force with a smaller design.” From a mechanical standpoint, the SyncHoist is engineered to the same below-the-hook safety standards as rigging – and even has additional hydraulic safeties built in. “You also have the ability to read the load in the cylinder from the control system, so you always know how much you’re picking up with it,” Crisci adds.
The SyncHoist System has been on the market for the last 15 years, including in Europe, where it was initially rolled out. “We’ve had quite some success with this product and have used it on several stadium projects, including the award-winning Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Atlanta Falcons,” Crisci says.
The team at Manhattan Constructors feels this sophisticated technology deserves accolades for innovation. “It gave our erectors the ability to adjust the pitch and elevation of the trusses remotely, versus having a worker manually making those adjustments with a hydraulic jack,” Cuddihee notes. “In addition, the remote-control feature provided a safer work environment because those manual adjustments at the hydraulic jack were electronic, not by human hand.”