Stadium price tag exceeds estimate Structural concrete to come in $16 million more than budgeted

March 07, 1998|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Stadium Authority, nearing completion of the Ravens stadium at Camden Yards, now estimates the bill for structural concrete will come in at $43 million, well in excess of the $27 million envisioned before ground was broken nearly two years ago.

Most of that money will go to Clark Construction Group of Bethesda, the contractor that won the "fast-track" bid for the work in 1996 and promised to negotiate a "guaranteed maximum price."

The state and Clark never reached agreement on the price, and the costs quickly soared -- accounting for most of the project's $20 million in overruns.

Clark's contract was the biggest on the project. Disputes over the company's performance and the cost of the work strained relations between Clark and the Stadium Authority, and resulted in a negotiated $1 million cut in its fees.

The Stadium Authority said it will be able to stay within the $220 million budget outlined in the fall, when it acknowledged it would not be able to meet the $200 million cost specified in the Ravens' 1995 contract with the state.

"We're going to make the $220 million. I think we're past the point of any surprises," said Bruce H. Hoffman, the Stadium Authority's executive director.

The team has made up the $20 million difference by speeding up payment of its required contribution -- at a discounted rate -- and paying the state $10 million for the right to sell the stadium name to a corporate sponsor.

When the fast-track bid was approved by state officials on Sept. 4, 1996, Clark estimated it could pour and form the concrete foundation, columns, ramps and other structural elements for $30.8 million. Negotiations to establish a price ceiling, however, stalled.

In the fall, the state formally changed the contract to a traditional cost-plus plan under which Clark would receive a reduced fee and bill the state for the cost of labor and material without limit. Clark's management fee was reduced to $2 million from the $3 million, with incentive bonuses, detailed in the 1996 contract.

Some work was given to other contractors for completion. Clark will receive about $36 million, the concrete supplier about $5 million, and Whiting Turner, the contractor that finished part of the job, $2 million.

"I think we had a tough start with Clark but a good finish," Hoffman said.

He acknowledged some complaints with Clark's productivity early in the job but also blamed design changes and an overheated construction market for the unexpectedly high costs.

Also coming in at a higher-than-expected price were the prefabricated concrete sections used to build the seating bowl.

The state originally estimated that work would cost $12.4 million, but it is now projecting a price of $15.7 million. That includes some revisions.

The stadium, being built adjacent to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, is scheduled to open Aug. 8.

Pub Date: 3/07/98

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