Contractors get NFL tryout Helping upgrade Colts' practice field may earn stadium job

March 13, 1996|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

In what they hope will be a dress rehearsal for one of the state's largest construction projects, nearly a dozen Maryland contractors are installing everything from new electrical wiring to fresh grass at the Colts' old training complex in Owings Mills.

By the time Baltimore's new football team arrives in a few weeks, about $2 million will have been spent on the suburban complex, converting it into temporary quarters for the unnamed team.

But many of the contractors have their eyes downtown, on the $200 million stadium project that could start going up in a few months.

Enterprise Electric Co. has workers at Owings Mills going over the wiring.

It's not a large contract for the company less than $50,000 for a firm that employs up to 300 workers at peak times but it may establish relationships and a track record that will help when it comes time to bid on the stadium job, said Steve Churchman, project manager for Enterprise, a family-owned firm based in Baltimore since 1928.

"We know it's going to be some fierce competition. But we hope to let them get to know us," Mr. Churchman said.

The company, which has done work at Memorial Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, hopes to win the major portion of the electrical job for the football stadium.

Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson, a Sparks-based surveying firm, will get less than $100,000 for the training complex work, but hopes to do for the new football stadium what it did for Oriole Park, said Senior Vice President Dan Cheng.

"We are just happy to be involved in the project," Mr. Cheng said.

Potts & Callahan of Baltimore is providing the heavy equipment to a Cleveland-based contractor doing the grading and excavation of the practice fields at Owings Mills. It did demolition and excavation for Oriole Park and would like to do the same for the football stadium.

"We like the fact that we are in on the ground floor," said Potts & Callahan Vice President Tim Collison. "We sure would like to be part of that project."

Oakwood Sod Farms of Salisbury will provide the sod, as it did for Oriole Park, Memorial Stadium and parts of the Bowie Baysox' field, said Gary Wilber, co-owner of the farm. The farm's sandy soil has proven popular for sports fields, where rapid drainage is needed.

Although the training complex opened only a few years before the Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984, portions of it have fallen into disrepair or below NFL standards. The facility was purchased by Baltimore as part of a settlement of lawsuits with the Colts and is being leased to the new team for $1 a year. It will eventually revert to the city or be sold.

A larger complex with more practice fields will eventually be built, probably on a different site, said Bruce Hoffmann, executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Fixing up the old complex and building the new one will be paid for by the team through the personal seat licenses it plans to sell to season ticket holders.

One company that featured prominently in Baltimore's sports past will play no role this time. Mayflower Transit, which has never lived down moving the Colts out of town that infamous night 12 years ago, did not win the work to return the new team. That will be done by B. Von Paris & Sons, an agent for NorthAmerican Van Lines.

Equipment is now being packed and the trucks will roll into town March 22. The team will begin training during the first week of April.

"We certainly are always anxious to have some additional business," said Carl Walter, spokesman for the Indianapolis-based Mayflower. But he said the company would not have discounted the job just to win public relations points.

Stung by criticism last week of its selection of the Cleveland-based grading company, the football team yesterday released a list of the contractors doing the work. Of the 14 companies involved, 11 are based in Maryland.

The out-of-towners are Southwest Industries of Texas, makers of AstroTurf; S. W. Franks Construction Co., the Cleveland company supervising the field grading; and Barton Malow of Detroit.

Barton Malow is one of three members of a joint venture that is acting as construction manager on the job, hiring and supervising the subcontractors. The other companies in the venture are Whiting Turner, a major Towson-based contractor, and Essex Construction Corp. of Oxon Hill.

Barton Malow, which opened a Maryland office in 1988, was the construction manager for Oriole Park and has an office in the adjacent warehouse, also the home of the stadium authority. Minority-owned Essex also has an office in the warehouse and is headed by Roger Blunt, a part-owner of the Orioles.

The Whiting-Barton-Essex joint venture won the bidding to build the stadium had Baltimore been awarded an expansion franchise by the NFL in 1993. The city failed to get a team then, but the authority decided to retain the partnership as construction manager. "They were hands down the best and I could see no reason to go through it all over again as long as they gave me the same people," Mr. Hoffmann said.

Other firms getting Owings Mills work through either the Whiting-Barton-Essex venture or the team are: Warren-Ehret Co. Maryland Inc., installing a new roof; Davis and O'Donnell carpentry of Ellicott City; A. C. Paint Co. of Baltimore; R. T. McKinzie irrigation systems of Silver Spring; and Poole and Kent plumbing of Baltimore.

Pub Date: 3/13/96

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