Millions more needed to construct ballpark, engineers say

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Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 10:05pm

Ballpark engineers are asking for more money to construct the downtown AAA ballpark.

Construction engineers say they will need another $10 million to build the ballpark in time for opening day next April.

City Council will decide Tuesday whether to improve that increase, which will cover increased construction costs and design costs due to changes in the initial designs for the park.

Ballpark Engineer Alan Shubert told reporters Thursday that the City normally gets the full designs drawn up first.

That did not happen in the case of the ballpark because of the rush to secure the purchase of the Tucson Padres for the MountainStar Sports group and to secure funding, said Shubert.

"We don't normally do projects that way, but when you're faced with a project with a deadline 18 months away to deliver a $50 million-project, we had no choice but to take this approach," he said.

Funding for part of that $10 million figure will be taken from previously approved sources.

Back in 2010, City Council approved certificates of obligation to fund transportation and street improvement projects. $3 million from that obligation will be used towards street projects around the ballpark.

Additionally, another $2 million will come from the 2012 Quality of Life Bond projects approved by voters last November. That will pay for the pedestrian walkway project that will connect to the ballpark.

Jordan/Hunt will be awarded those additional projects in conjunction with the ballpark construction.

That leaves a $5 million increase specifically just for construction for the ballpark.

That was to be expected, said Shubert, because they had a contingency plan in place in case the cost of the ballpark was to go up. That contingency plan would account for possible extra costs estimated to be about 10 percent of the original budget, which was just over $40 million.

If these bonds are not approved, either the ballpark won't be ready for opening day, or amenities promised for the ballpark, such as a certain number of suites and seating, will have to be scaled back, said Shubert.

What is more, said Shubert, they cannot foresee whether even more funds may be needed within the next year, as construction progresses.

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