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  • 09 Aug 2018 4:54 PM | Anonymous
    The Atlanta Braves spring training facility under construction calls for hundreds of workers, pounds of steel and cubic yards of concrete. A sneak peek reveals progress made and challenges ahead before the team can 'play ball.'

    by: Grier Ferguson Staff Writer

    Next spring will mean a fresh start for the Atlanta Braves.

    But to get to fresh start, first the Braves, through a handful of partners and entities, are engaged in a massive and unique, one-time, $125 million made on the Gulf Coast manufacturing project: a brand new baseball stadium. 

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    Project. Atlanta Braves spring training stadium and facility. 

    Industry. Construction 

    Key. Outlast weather dealys. 

    The Major League baseball team is moving its spring training base from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando to West Villages, a master-planned community in North Port, a south Sarasota County city. With the move, the Braves will become the 10th Major League team, in what's called the Grapefruit League, to hold spring training on the west coast of Florida, from Lakeland through Fort Myers. Unlike most other teams, this stadium is the rare one to be made from scratch. 

    Lori Sax. Braves Vice President of Florida Operations Mike Dunn, Tandem Construction Senior Vice President Brian Leaver and Fawley Bryant Architecture Project Manager Kirk Bauer look at plans for the Braves facility.

    Braves Vice President of Florida Operations Mike Dunn says as other teams relocate from Central Florida, the North Port location will give them an edge — less time traveling. “Here we’re closer to the competition,” Dunn says. “Plus it’s a beautiful area.”

    The Braves aim to play their first game in North Port in March 2019. But to do that, construction on the team’s new complex will have to be finished. That means the project team will have to keep plowing ahead — and keep dodging raindrops.

    By the Numbers
    • 325 subcontractors are on site working in all areas of the complex.
    • 1,200 tons of steel has been erected for the stadium.
    • 12,360 cubic yards of concrete have been poured for the stadium.
    • The heaviest tilt-wall installed at the stadium was 69.5 tons.

    After an October 2017 groundbreaking, foundation work started in December. Now about 40% of the project is complete, says Fawley Bryant Architecture Project Manager Kirk Bauer.

    Getting to that point has meant some six-day work weeks and even, at times, seven-day weeks for some members of the team. Bauer says the project boils down to creating an entire 80-acre campus from a blank slate.

    Courtesy. A rendering of the new Atlanta Braves spring training stadium under construction in North Port.

    In addition to the Braves, partners contributing to the $125 million price tag include Mattamy Homes and the West Villages Improvement District. Florida, North Port and Sarasota County are also funding parts of the project. 

    Dunn says the facility, with practice fields, an observation tower and a clubhouse, will serve as a baseball-manufacturing complex for the team. “Every component of the Atlanta Braves will be produced here,” he says.

    Lori Sax. The inside of the stadium under construction.

    For fans, meanwhile, the stadium has a 360-degree concourse walkway so all elements of the game are visible, Bauer says. The facility includes 6,200 fixed seats and 1,000 berm seats.

    The stadium will also have a grassy knoll and an outfield patio and bar area. “We want the experience for the fan to be overwhelming,” says Dunn. The goal? Dunn says it’s to get the fan to say, “Oh my gosh, there’s so much to see and do.”

    What’s the biggest manufacturing challenge you’ve had to overcome?

    Summer storms present some signficant challenges at the Braves spring training construction site in North Port. “The biggest problem we’ve had lately is the rain,” says Fawley Bryant Architecture Project Manager Kirk Bauer. To make up for it, he says, “a lot of people have been working overtime.”

    Gray skies frequently threaten rain, and when lightning is involved, that means workers must stop and retreat until it has passed. Braves Vice President of Florida Operations Mike Dunn says, “We understand we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature.”

    In an internal report detailing construction progress and events during mid-July, officials write that lightning occurs daily around 2:30 p.m. and holds up work activities for up to two-and-a-half hours.

    Weather or not, the overall plan remains the same: fans in seats, players on the field and bats swinging in March 2019.

    A plaza on the campus will be open regularly to the public and fields will be available for use, too. “It’s more about bringing the community to this site,” Bauer says. “It’s not just a ballpark.”

    To build the complex, the team is using a large local workforce.

    Tandem Construction Senior Vice President Brian Leaver says that includes companies that have done good work in the past with the general contractor. “We’re working with partners we know,” he says, including Fawley Bryant and several subcontractors. “That’s why they’re here. We know they can perform.”

    “It’s more about bringing the community to this site. It’s not just a ballpark.” — Kirk Bauer, project manager, Fawley Bryant Architecture

    Part of what makes the project interesting, Leaver says, is the variety of materials, including clay, rock and sand. “It’s a lot of fun,” he says. “You don’t get to build Major League fields or stadiums very often.”

    For Bauer, some of the excitement surrounding the new stadium has to do with tradition. When construction is done, it will become a place where traditions are born, he says, like children going to their first Atlanta Braves baseball game. “This will be the start of them being Braves fans.”


  • 02 Aug 2018 11:37 PM | Anonymous

    Every year, the Florida / Caribbean chapter of the AIA recognizes one firm in the state of Florida that has produced notable architecture for at least a decade.

    This year’s recipient is the local firm of Sweet Sparkman Architects. The award was presented to Sweet Sparkman Architects on Saturday, July 20th at the annual Florida AIA convention held at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

    The Jury commended Sweet Sparkman’s comprehensive body of work for its consistent high quality and good variety. They complimented Sweet Sparkman for their inclusivity and authenticity. “They put people first. This is a firm involved in training and mentoring staff as well as client service and community involvement. They are not just about design, but also, service to the profession and the community.”

    Todd Sweet, firm founder, states, “I hope this award says that we are providing a valuable service to our clients by developing architectural solutions that are creative, sustainable, and economical.”

    Partner Jerry Sparkman reiterates this idea. “This award is a testament to our staff; their devotion to design, the built environment, and, most importantly, service to our community.”

    Firm of the Year Award is the highest honor the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Florida / Caribbean Chapter can bestow upon an architecture firm. It is awarded to recognize a firm that has consistently produced distinguished architecture, has shown a commitment to the AIA and the profession of architecture, and has been a service to the community in which they are located.

    ABOUT AIA: Founded in 1857, AIA consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through more than 200 international, state and local chapters, AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards.

    ABOUT SWEET SPARKMAN ARCHITECTS: Sweet Sparkman Architects designs comprehensive, artful places through a collaborative, creative, and professional process. The firm specializes in community oriented projects. Sweet Sparkman Architects has received national and international design industry recognition for a wide range of private and public projects including residences, offices, academic buildings, fire stations, and park pavilions. For more information visit http:// www.sweetsparkman.com.


  • 02 Aug 2018 11:35 PM | Anonymous

    July 30, 2018 02:08 PM

    Updated July 30, 2018 05:40 PM


  • 26 Jul 2018 4:06 PM | Anonymous

    Venice-based J.E. Charlotte Construction Corp. has been awarded the contract to construct the new 23,437-square-foot facility for RSP USA, a full-service marketing solutions provider that has served the real estate industry since 1997. For nearly 16 years, RSP USA has been located at 7456 16th St. E. in Manatee County. From layout to interior finishes, the ground-up construction on the new building is scheduled for completion in spring 2019. Once complete, the company will move into its new facility at 5246 Lena Road in Bradenton. The more than $3,000,000 project will expand RSP USA’s current footprint and accommodate its growing client base. The architecture firm on the project, Sivitz Innovative Design, has issued a utility design incorporating office space and a production area with high-end features. Glass will surround the building, providing views of a pond and fountain at the rear of the building and the land’s natural vegetation that will b e preserved


  • 05 Jul 2018 5:59 PM | Anonymous

    Sarasota-based Sweet Sparkman Architects has promoted architect, John Bryant, AIA, LEED AP to firm principal.

    After receiving a degree in music at Grinnell College, John received his Master of Architecture from the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in 2007. At the University of Maryland, he received the Dean’s Thesis Award and the 2007 David M. Schwarz Traveling Fellowship, which allowed for thesis research in Japan.

    John joined Sweet Sparkman Architects in 2012. He served as the project manager for the recently completed Basch Visual Arts Center at Ringling College of Art + Design and Fruitville Elementary Classroom Building Addition. John was also the project manager for the Siesta Key Beach Improvements project which included two new concession buildings and a restoration of the historically designated Siebert Beach Pavilion. John currently serves as the project manager for the new Venice Library.

    John is active in the architectural community through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He served as president of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the AIA in 2014.

    Todd Sweet, AIA, LEED AP, firm founder stated, “We are thrilled to have John as a principal and partner in the firm. John’s tireless efforts to date have elevated our practice of architecture.” Jerry Sparkman, AIA, NCARB expounds, “John’s talents are simply too numerous to note, but one in particular stands out. His ability to direct a project towards success is uncanny. It’s an honor to have John become a partner in our firm, and we look forward to seeing what new design frontiers he explores in the years ahead.”

    ABOUT SWEET SPARKMAN ARCHITECTS

    Formed in 2002, Sweet Sparkman Architects is an architecture and planning firm specializing in community oriented projects. Projects include residential, large mixed-use buildings, civic and community projects.

    Sweet Sparkman Architects has received national and international design recognition, including the distinguished 2018 AIA Florida Firm of the Year. For more information visit www.sweetsparkman.com.


  • 14 Jun 2018 5:34 PM | Anonymous

    Adams and Reese has announced the firm has been included in the BTI Consulting Group’s (BTI) Brand Elite 2018: Client Perceptions of the Best-Branded Law Firms. For this annual publication, BTI conducted 686 interviews of corporate counsel at the world’s largest companies to solicit unbiased, direct feedback about the law firms they consider top-of-mind. BTI’s research unveiled a list of 334 law firms that corporate counsel recommend and consider first, provide value for the dollar, lead their markets and add value through technology or new services, among other traits BTI identifies as market-leading in brand perception and performance. Adams and Reese has long received recognition in BTI publications, which are all based on feedback from corporate counsel. Since 2006, Adams and Reese has been recognized for “Outstanding Client Service” in the yearly BTI Client Service A-Team report. The firm has also been named among BTI’s lis t of “Market Movers,” “Top 100 in Mergers and Acquisitions” and “Most Tech-Savvy Law Firms.”

  • 07 Jun 2018 1:43 PM | Anonymous

    Sarasota, FL, May 29, 2018– Willis Smith Construction announces that the Sarasota County Fire Stations #12, #14, #16, #17 have won the 2018 American Public Works Association Projects of the Year Award for structures $5-$25 million.

    The Fire Station’s project team consisted of Sweet Sparkman Architects and Willis Smith Construction. Brett Raymaker, Willis Smith Construction Project Executive, oversaw all four projects and worked closely with Kim Humphrey, Sarasota County Facilities and the Fire Department personnel throughout the process. Each station broke ground within three months of each other and each were completed under budget by utilizing the local construction community of Sarasota County. Each station was completed within the scheduled time of completion date and each celebrated their completions with grand openings in 2016. Each Fire Station also achieved the LEED Silver rating from the USGBC Council in 2016. John LaCivita, Executive Vice President of Willis Smith Construction stated, “It is truly an honor being a part of the team that constructed Sarasota County’s new Fire Stations 12, 14, 16, 17 and we are very proud to have been recognized by the Florida Chapter of APWA with the Project of the Year Award.”

    The projects are also being considered for the National APWA Award Selection.

    Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc. is a construction management firm headquartered in Lakewood Ranch, primarily serving Southwest Florida since 1972. The company has a longstanding reputation for superior construction and offers its clients particular expertise in the areas of commercial, industrial, education, healthcare, museum specialty work and sustainable construction. Willis A. Smith Construction serves to promote excellence and integrity in the construction industry while contributing to the betterment of our clients and the communities we serve.

    If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Peggy Kronus at 941-366-3116 or email at pkronus@willissmith.com.


  • 31 May 2018 12:58 PM | Anonymous

    Sarasota based Sutter Roofing Company has received several large contracts on significant projects in our area. The company was awarded the contract on the Atlanta Braves Spring Training Stadium and Clubhouses with Construction Manager Tandem / Barton Malow. Sutter will perform all the low slope roofing and sheet metal on the new $125 million-dollar facility. The firm said their experience on similar projects and the fact that they are a local contractor played a part in their selection. “We have successfully completed Spring Training projects at Ed Smith Stadium (Orioles), George M. Steinbrenner Field (Yankees), McKechnie Field (Pirates) Joker Marchand Stadium (Tigers) and also the Nationals Stadium in Melbourne” said Doug Sutter, company President. “We have proven that we can perform on these demanding, fast-track projects”

    Sutter also received contracts on new construction projects in Manatee County including the East Manatee Middle School with Willis Smith Construction, North River High School with Gilbane Construction, and IMG Academy Hotel / Dormitory with Tandem Construction. “These are all significant new institutional projects with long-term customers that we enjoy working with. These facilites are necessary due to the tremendous growth of our area. They will enhance the already excellent education system in Manatee County and we are proud to be a trade partner on these projects.”

    Sutter is also known for large reroofing projects and the company is current working on the Desoto Square Mall with Madison Properties, Southeast High School with AD Morgan Construction and several large condominium reroofs due to Hurricane Irma in Collier County.

    The projects above are estimated to take almost 60,000 man hours to complete have an aggregate contract value of approximately $10 million. “The market is as robust as I have seen it in my 30-year career” remarked Doug. “These projects will keep a lot of local employees here on the Gulf Coast busy for months to come. There is even more work out there if we could get additional workers into our industry. That is an on-going challenge. However, we have the manpower to meet our clients objectives and schedules for these projects.”

    About Sutter: Sutter Roofing is one of the oldest and largest roofing and sheet metal contractors in the U.S. The company started in 1902 in Clarksburg, WV where it remains active today. The Florida office was started in 1979 and has grown to five offices throughout the State. Sutter Roofing specializes in a broad range of applications including Industrial, Government, Health Care, Educational, Retail, Condominiums, Cold Storage/ Distribution and other commercial roofing projects. The firm also maintains one of the largest commercial roof repair departments in the State utilizing their patented, state of the art SecureRoof service software.


  • 24 May 2018 10:48 PM | Anonymous

    Lakewood Ranch’s Halfacre Construction Company recently added two new partners, Reed Giasson and Tom Rees, who will work alongside Halfacre president Jack Cox. Giasson joined Halfacre 18 years ago as a carpenter and has since worked as a lead estimator, field superintendent, project manager and vice president. Rees, meanwhile, joined Halfacre Construction 14 years ago as an assistant project manager. He will supervise the firm’s educational projects in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Collier and Hillsborough counties.

  • 24 May 2018 10:27 PM | Anonymous

    – Decide the Date Sarasota, a grassroots, bipartisan petition campaign, has succeeded in collecting the required number of petitions to ask city voters, on a November referendum ballot, whether they desire to change the date of City Commission elections to coincide with federal, state, county, and district elections.

    “City elections currently take place in March and May of odd-numbered years when no other elections are held. A great majority of Sarasota residents don’t know when to vote,” says Decide the Date Sarasota co-chair and former Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell. “The goal of this initiative is simple: Let Sarasota city voters decide in a November election if it makes sense to hold local elections at the same time as county, state, and federal primary and general elections.”

    The Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections has officially validated 4,732 petitions and transmitted the certification of the validation to the Sarasota City Clerk. Decide the Date Sarasota gathered 996 petitions over the 3,736 petitions required for the certification. The petitions were turned in to the Supervisor of Elections in five months, one month prior to the six-month certification deadline provided in the City Charter.

    The City Clerk will present the validation to the City Commission and the matter will be set for a public hearing process to adopt an ordinance setting the election date for the referendum.

    Supporters of the campaign include the Sarasota NAACP, The Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, The Argus Foundation, the Sarasota Chapter of the ACLU, Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, ACLU Florida, The Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee, the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association and many others. Aligning city elections to coincide with state and federal elections in August and November of even-numbered years would dramatically increase voter turnout and save about $100,000 per election.

    “Voter turnout for spring city elections is notoriously abysmal,” says longtime Sarasota resident Larry Eger, elected public defender for the 12th Judicial Circuit and co-chair of the Decide the Date Sarasota initiative. “Having surpassed the required number of signatures by such a large margin in so little time speaks to the popularity of giving Sarasota voters a choice as to when they want to hold their elections. We look forward to voters deciding this issue this November.”

    For more information, including proposed language to amend the Charter of the City of Sarasota, as well as FAQs, visit www.DecideTheDate.com.


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