Stadium contractor confusion cleared

Courtesy rendering
Courtesy rendering

By Daniel C. Houston
Staff Writer

The architectural firm Baylor hired to design a potential riverfront football stadium is working with five construction companies to estimate the cost of the project.

Although Baylor has not received enough information to provide an estimate, the estimates will ultimately inform the decision whether to approve the stadium’s construction, Brian Nicholson, associate vice president for facilities, planning and construction, said.

“We’re not in the process of selecting a construction manager right now,” Nicholson said.

“The architect is simply trying to budget-check and check the price on some of their early concepts,”he said.

Populous, the Kansas City company that designed the initial stadium renderings, is working with Manhattan Construction Co., Turner Construction Co., the Beck Group and others to estimate the stadium cost, Nicholson confirmed.

The Beck Group constructed the Baylor Sciences Building and is currently building the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative facilities.

Manhattan, which also built Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, caused some confusion last week when it ran an item in a local contractor association newsletter that appeared to be soliciting bids for the new stadium on behalf of the university.

“The [Associated General Contractors] sent out a publication last week and [the stadium] was under the bid section,” Nicholson said Monday, “and it appeared as though Manhattan was accepting bids on behalf of the university.”

Baylor and Manhattan later requested the newsletter item be taken down when they realized it could have been misinterpreted as a bid rather than an estimate, Nicholson said.

The president of the organization that published the newsletter, K. Paul Holt of the AGC’s Central Texas chapter, said budget estimates are gathered very early in the process of exploring a project, while making a bid implies the project is at a later stage.

“When [a project] finally comes out and hits the AGC newsletter, that’s when it’s really being built,” Holt said.

“I think there was a bit of an overreaction that once it hit the newsletter; there was a bit of a misinterpretation that, ‘Wow, this project is really coming on.’”

Holt said Baylor’s construction and renovation projects are usually not publicized in this manner until they have already been approved by the university.

“Those things are done more privately than publicly,” Holt said. “So when people saw it on the public side [in the newsletter], that’s where the misinterpretation came from. The university is in the process of getting budget estimates for numerous projects year-round.”A Manhattan representative was not able to answer questions about the newsletter item. A public relations officer with Populous did not return calls for comment on this story.