Builder picked for WPB baseball complex has major league credentials


The company that built Marlins Park in Miami and the new Chicago Cubs Cactus League stadium in Arizona will be in charge of building the spring training home of the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals south of 45th Street.

Hunt Construction was named construction manager of the $135 million baseball project Monday, beating out four other companies after a day of interviews with a three-person selection committee.

“This is the company that is going to make it happen. This is the horse we are riding into the sunset,’’ said Arthur Fuccillo, a minority partner for the Nationals.

Hunt has headquarters in Indianapolis but its team on the West Palm Beach baseball project will include three other South Florida builders: Straticon, Messam and Cooper.

A three-person committee, made up of representatives of the teams and the county, conducted the interviews in private but allowed the public to observe its final deliberations. The project will be built with a combination of state, county and team money.

The panel ranked four companies after Hunt in the following order: Barton Malow (which was partnering with Weitz), Moss Construction (with Valley Crest), Turner Construction (with Kast Construction) and Whiting-Turner.

“It was really a two-team race between Barton Malow and Hunt,’’ said Giles Kibbe, general counsel for the Astros.

All five companies have experience building sports facilities, but Hunt’s track record with spring training facilities in Florida gave it an edge, according to the committee.

Aside from $515 million Marlins Park, with a retractable roof, and the $99 million Cubs’ complex in Mesa, Ariz., Hunt’s résumé includes construction and renovations at spring training facilities in Florida for the Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays.

No design proposals were revealed during the public session.

Straticon, which has offices in West Palm Beach and Stuart, did renovation work at the New York Mets’ spring training stadium in Port St. Lucie.

Fuccillo said Hunt gave the committee another comfort level by including project managers with solid experience overseeing baseball projects, including Mark McCaskey, Chris Bauer and Sid Perkins.

“Those guys will be on site all the time,’’ Fuccillo said.

The Nationals and Astros hope Hunt can break ground no later than fall because the teams want to open the complex by January 2017. But several hurdles remain, starting with a land-use change that would free up 27 acres on the south end of the site between Haverhill Road and Military Trail.

Although the teams started preliminary work on the site two weeks ago, no formal construction can start until the Florida Legislature approves the change in the buffer set up to protect a West Palm Beach canal.

The Legislature is expected to vote next month, a move that would be followed by Palm Beach County and West Palm Beach finalizing a land swap that would allow the teams to use the 160 acres.

The teams already have started conducting soil tests to determine if they can build on the land, which was used as a yard-waste landfill from the 1960s until the early 1990s.

Kibbe, Fuccillo and John Chesher, director of Palm Beach County’s capital improvements division, made up the selection committee, as approved by the County Commission. The panel’s decisions do not require County Commission review.

The committee already has made other choices for the baseball project. Urban Design Kilday Studios was chosen last month as the planning consultant and URS Corp. was chosen as the environmental consultant and HKS will be the architects.



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