Workers shed light on stadium building process

Despite a few setbacks, construction workers see the massive project as a “dream job.”

Andrew Cummins

Scott Nemetz recently bought Gopher football season tickets for the team’s inaugural season at TCF Bank Stadium. He also just helped pour a concrete deck at the stadium site.

What’s the reason for this combination? Nemetz is the stadium site’s head foreman for Gresser, a Minnesota-based masonry and concrete company, as well as a Gopher football fan.

Nemetz has worked at Gresser since 2000, but has never worked on a stadium project before – something that offers challenges.

“Everything is magnified by five,” he said. “There is aggressive scheduling and timing.”

Despite the demands presented by the job, Nemetz’s fanhood and the scale of the project have led him to call it a “dream job.”

While Nemetz said the concrete pouring and masonry work on the site has gone smoothly, other aspects of the project have encountered some setbacks.

Although the site’s Senior Superintendent Randy Schnieders says the project is now back on schedule, Mother Nature presented some roadblocks during the winter months.

The extremely low temperatures and high winds slowed down the installation of steel beams, steel and iron worker Dave Hines said.

“Weather has been a big problem,” Hines said. “Some days we didn’t work.”

Hines, who has been with steel and iron subcontractor Amerect for 18 years, also said it was tough to get equipment up and running on cold mornings.

In addition to being a hindrance to the steel and iron installation process, Hines said the weather also posed possible safety risks – a fact that supervisors considered when deciding shifts and scheduling.

The stadium, slated to be completed by fall of 2009, will eventually see more than 400 workers on site at a time, Paul Kitching, senior project manager at Mortenson, said.

One of those workers, Joe Lane, an eight year employee of Harris Companies, said the biggest difference in working on a project like this compared to a smaller building is the scale.

Water pipes used in the stadium construction were double or triple the standard size compared to a classroom building on campus, Lane said.

He also called the project “unique” and said that working on something that will serve many people and be seen by many more has its benefits.

“To know it’s going to be something I see on TV is neat,” he said.

Lane’s employer is one of about 40 subcontractors Mortenson will ultimately work with on the stadium’s construction, Schnieders said.

Many of the subcontractors are based either in the Twin Cities or outstate Minnesota – something Schnieders said helps keep costs down.

In other stadium news Ö

Stadium officials plan on installing the first brick at the stadium site in early April.

University officials are working to try to get a foreman who laid bricks at Memorial Stadium to lay the first brick at the event.

Either way, project officials expect the milestone to be a big step in the construction process.

“The first laying of the first brick will be a big deal here,” Schnieders said.