The start of the 117th season of Major League Baseball is just around the corner. While we wait for the ground crews to chalk the baselines and teams to finalize their opening day rosters, here’s a look at some of Thornton Tomasetti’s recent work around the league aimed at enhancing the game experience for team owners, players and of course, the fans.
The 1060 project, which started in 2014, will give Chicago’s Wrigley Field a makeover that preserves the park’s historic features while adding modern amenities. Ben Pavlich / Thornton Tomasetti.
One of the most iconic stadiums in baseball is Wrigley Field, home of the current World Series Champions, the Chicago Cubs. Thornton Tomasetti has been providing structural and construction engineering for the 1060 Project, the multi-phase restoration and expansion program designed to preserve the 103-year-old Illinois ballpark’s historic charm while providing fans with more modern features. The project’s first phase finished in 2015 and strengthened the left field grandstand foundations, rebuilt the ballpark’s outfield bleacher seating sections and added 300 seats and 300 standing positions as well as two large video boards and new concessions under the bleachers.
New bleachers under construction in Spring 2015; the batter’s eye and historic scoreboard were preserved.
The second phase, completed last year, included new amenities at the upper-level concourse and a 30,000-square-foot clubhouse connected by a new tunnel to the dugout. Strengthening the grandstand turned out to be the most challenging aspect of the phase, since the original 1914 stadium design did not meet current code wind loads. To provide for both modern code-prescribed gravity and wind loads, we recommended augmenting the grandstand’s lateral system with the addition of new diaphragm reinforcing using carbon fiber reinforced polymers, and concrete encasement of the rakers. This alternative approach to replacing the precast and cast-in-place spalled areas resulted in a significant cost savings for the Cubs organization.
Newly completed bleachers with left and right field video boards that debuted in 2015.
The third phase of the five-year project took place this past offseason (2016/2017). It was a continuation of the strengthening and repair work of the prior phases primarily in right field. The main focus was on the reconstruction of the terrace level behind home plate, the mezzanine level, and ramps, along with extensive reinforcement of the main roof trusses to accommodate future party decks and suite expansions scheduled for upcoming phases.
PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Courtesy daveynin/Flickr.
Another ballpark undergoing a renovation program is PNC Park, home to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pennsylvania. Thornton Tomasetti, which served as the engineer of record for the stadium’s construction in 2001, has been assisting in these renovations. These include upgrades for the premium seating Lexus Club and retrofitting for new concrete treads and risers for the addition of new seats. There were also modifications to the left field lower bowl and the upper concourse bowl that included retrofitting some of the existing ADA seating areas. In addition, two television camera bay locations were modified with overbuild for added seating and the backstop netting was extended to the end of each dugout for additional protection from foul balls for fans in the lower bowl.
The new Craft Pier upper deck and Sun Diego Beach lower deck at Petco Park in San Diego.
There has also been a series of renovations at PETCO Park in San Diego, home of the San Diego Padres. We provided structural design for the creation of a double-tiered patio deck in right field from the existing seating area. The lower deck is slab-on-grade and the upper deck is framed with concrete over the steel deck supported on concrete bearing walls. The design included foundations, slabs, stairs, shear walls, guardrails and drink rails. The concrete decks were covered with pedestal mounted wood decking, and sawn timber beams and heavy timber “gun barrel” pier piling were introduced between levels to simulate a harbor pier. To help capture the local flavor of San Diego, the decor was completed with surf boards and coastal wall murals. Thornton Tomasetti was also the structural engineer of record for the stadium’s construction in 2004, noteworthy at the time for being located within two miles of an active fault and designed to meet the UBC requirements of Seismic Zone Four.
Recent Diamond Club renovations at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Since completing a $250-million renovation and restoration effort in 2009, Thornton Tomasetti has been involved in numerous projects at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals in Missouri. In this past offseason, we provided structural engineering for four additional stadium renovation programs. This work entailed floor strengthening for heavy distributed antenna system (DAS) equipment; improvements to the Diamond Club area including the addition and reconfiguration of seating, a mechanical equipment access catwalk and supports for three suspended folding glass walls; the addition of a Authentics memorabilia and collectibles store; and a new sponsor pavilion in the concourse behind right field.
Inspecting the Safeco Field roof in Seattle.
Major League Baseball’s northernmost stadium is Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington’s SoDo district where the Seattle Mariners play. Our Kinetics team, along with strategic partner Hardesty & Hanover, has been performing annual condition reviews of the stadium’s retractable roof panels and the fixed structure supporting side panels since 2004. Safeco Field’s retractable roof consists of three independent panels that span approximately 700 feet over the stadium and, when retracted, the two end panels nest under the center panel over the rail tracks to the east of the stadium. In addition to our roof review, we have been involved with the replacement of portions of the mechanization system that operates the roof.
Miller Park in Milwaukee.
Our Kinetics team and Hardesty & Hanover have also been hard at work at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home of the Milwaukee Brewers. From 2002 and 2007, we were involved in the replacement of all the components of the mechanization system that operates the stadium’s five retractable roof panels. The Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District has continued our relationship, retaining our Kinetics group annually to help keep the roof in working order. We also provide guidance for future maintenance, develop repair details for a variety of conditions observed in the field and evaluate the overall performance of the roof structure.
The new Yankee Stadium patios were open for use and enjoyed by Senior Project Engineer Efe Karanci (left) as New York City Football Club took to the field on March 18.
Thornton Tomasetti provided structural and construction engineering services to Populous for the new Yankee Stadium that was unveiled during the 2009 season (The project was especially exciting for many of our native New Yorkers on staff, including project team members Chairman and CEO Tom Scarangello and Managing Principal Mike Squarzini). This past offseason, we were back in the Bronx working with HOK to provide the largest alteration to the stadium since it opened. The project included the removal of four bays of raked bleachers and replacing them with level patio areas to allow for a more free distribution of fans in the area. In left field, where the only truck access runs under the patios, we used long spanning plate girders to transfer columns and reinforced an existing 40-foot deep member. To avoid conflicts, Thornton Tomasetti’s CORE studio was brought in to provide photogrammetry of the existing conditions, allowing us to design the plate girder within an inch of an existing gas main.
Now, let’s get ready to kick back and enjoy some baseball. Batter up!
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