Buies Creek Astros general manager David Lane said on Thursday that, despite ground not having been broken, construction for the team’s eventual new home in Fayetteville, N.C., is still on track.
“There (were) never plans to break ground this early,” Lane said. “It was a July or August groundbreak for a (scheduled) turnover of April 2019 to be Opening Day. So we’re still on target. Right now the plan is August for a groundbreaking. We’ll have a ceremonial groundbreaking in late July or early August, but it will coincide with the actual groundbreaking. So everything is on track, and we’re not behind on anything.”
There have been slight issues in construction so far, but nothing that would appear to keep the team from leaving Jim Perry Stadium, which it shares with Campbell University, after the 2018 season. Some of the soil around the construction site, for example, is contaminated and will have to be treated before building can begin on the residential and commercial buildup that is expected for the areas around the stadium.
Additionally, there were plans for the stadium to have two entrances. Those plans have been adjusted and there will be only one entrance. The Fayetteville Observer has reported that this adjustment is to help lower costs from the initial estimate of $39 million to $34.7 million. Other changes will include lowering the concourse and tweaking the dugout design.
Now, the city is in the process of working with the respective design and construction companies Populous and Barton Malow to take bids from contractors for the project.
“We’re working on construction costs and bids,” Lane said. “Barton Malow, they’re doing all that, they’re the construction manager.”
For his part, Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan, who was key in helping to oversee the process of getting the team to Campbell and eventually to Fayetteville, is also confident that the stadium’s progress is right on track.
“I built Dell Diamond in 12 months from groundbreaking to first pitch and built Whataburger Field in 13 months from groundbreaking to first pitch,” he said. “We just did the whole Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in roughly a year and a half. So we went into this process feeling like we had a lot of time. Things have been going well for us even though there hasn’t been a groundbreaking, so to speak.
“What I’ve learned over the years from everything we’ve done is that spending more time on the front end making sure that you’ve got everything right and you’re getting the stadium designed the way that you want to design it, you’re getting things priced out and you’re getting the right people on the team, really pays dividends. That’s versus trying to break ground and then making decisions as you go. We feel like we’ve got plenty of time to get everything we want to have done, done.”
Barton Malow did work on the Braves’ new SunTrust Park as well as Spirit Communications Park in Columbia, S.C., upon which the new Fayetteville stadium is being modeled. Like SCP and Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, Ind., the Fayetteville stadium will serve as the epicenter of a downtown revitalization project and will be open to the public 365 days a year with a concourse available for walking or jogging during the days and hours the stadium is not in use for a ballgame.
If something does happen that keeps the stadium from opening on time, there is an option for a third year in the Astros’ original contract with Campbell that would make sure they don’t wind up without a home ballpark. Even so, Lane remains confident that everything will fall into place as expected and baseball will be played in Fayetteville in April 2019.
“Everything’s on track for then and we’re happy,” Lane said. “Everything is ready to go.”