Tacoma Rainiers President Aaron Artman is taking issue with statements from members of one of the losing bidders for renovating Cheney Stadium that their team’s design included a public concourse.
The issue arises from my story on Monday that noted the TNT had obtained design records from the two losing teams, respectively headed by Turner Construction and Wade Perrow. The city had previously released only design records from the winning Mortenson Construction team’s concept, saying that until a contract is formally awarded, the other designs remain proprietary under bidding requirements.
The City Council will consider formally awarding a contract for the $30 million ballpark renovation to Mortenson at tonight’s meeting, which starts at 5 p.m.
What irked Artman was this part of the story, specifically the sentence in bold:
The city has declined to publicly release the two losing designs, saying that information remains proprietary until a contract has been awarded. But The News Tribune obtained renderings from the Turner and Wade Perrow teams. Both look far more futuristic than the winning design and appear to use more stone and steel in construction. Both losing bids also provided a public concourse with field views, unlike the Mortenson design, which does not.
Artman said the Turner design did not include a public concourse.
“The important thing to know with regard to the concourse is how we’re defining `concourse,'” he said. “We’re talking about a concourse where fans have a view down to the field regardless of any price level.”
City Public Assembly Facilities Director Mike Combs and Artman, both of whom were on the seven-member ballpark design selection panel that chose the winning Mortenson design, each also said today that a traditional concourse is accessible to the seating bowl areas — like the concourse at Safeco Field.
No one disputes the Wade Perrow design, which came in third place, has a public concourse with field views. Nor, after some pressing, does Artman and Combs say Mortenson’s design have one – at least not today (Yesterday afternoon, after the dispute over the Turner design had intensified, the Rainiers described an area behind home plate in the Mortensen design as “a field view concourse area.” Today, Combs referred to it as a “deck,” and Artman described it as a “patio”).
“In the case of the Turner design, there’s no more of a concourse under that definition then there is in the (chosen) Mortenson design,” Artman said today. “I would say it’s misleading for any member of that team to state otherwise.”
But officials from PCS Structural Solutions, the structural engineers for the Turner team, have said the Turner design does offer a public concourse area on the grandstand’s main level. The records they provided to the TNT appear to indicate a pathway that extends, at least partly, on the field side around the mezzanine level area and includes and seems to be publicly accessible.
And Turner provided a “Menue of Alternates Matrix” as part of its bid, which among other items, states their design provides “a view Corridor from the concourse to the field.”
Yesterday afternoon, I raised Artman’s concerns to Brian Phair, PCS’ chief executive officer. Phair described the Turner design’s main level public area as extending from what he called a “party deck” area on the third base side (from which, you could see the view in the second image below), toward and past home plate, through a publicly accessible restaurant area and onto a public walkway above the seats on the first base side (both seen in the second image below).
“I would say it’s a public concourse, yes,” Phair said. He added others might use different words than “concourse,” but essentially, the design provided a publicly accessible thoroughfare through the grandstand’s main level, just above the seating bowl.
After the conversation, Phair later emailed me a rendering of the Turner design (third image below) showing what he called the “public mezzanine/restaurant terrace.”
“The restaurant and this deck goes from behind home plate all the way past 3rd base,” he wrote.
PCS team members previously also had told the TNT that, after the ballpark selection panel received initial bids from each team that were all over-budget, the panel requested new bids with a list of priorities that scaled back program amenities. In response, Turner team’s final design put in the concourse, which was not in its initial design. A team member later estimated about 40 percent of the mezzanine was open to the public.
Still, Artman insisted to the newspaper on Monday the design did not have a concourse. In phone calls and emails, the Rainiers disputed the PCS interpretation, saying that not all parts of that stretch of the Turner design are open to the public at large, nor are they accessible to the seating bowl (Artman told me today that one area being described as “public” in the Turner design serves as the ballpark’s exclusive “Gold Club,” which costs fans an additional fee to access. He also disputed that the restaurant and the aisle-way, or deck, that extends off of it toward right field is open to the public).
So, I went back to Phair yet again. He emailed back (in part):
“Can’t imagine the restaurant and restaurant deck isn’t open to the public and would require a `fee’ to enter?, those comments are news to me and need to be confirmed with the architect and not me.”
He added he would see what he could find out.
Today, I took up the issue again, first speaking with Combs, then with Artman. Is this a concourse or not, I asked Combs.
During the phone call, Combs said he was looking at Turner’s “bubble diagrams” — rough renderings the team provided in its final bid — and he could not definitely say whether a public gathering area on the third base side is accessible from the seats below, or whether it’s open to everyone.
As for the fuller concourse area described by PCS, he added: “I think it’s more of an aisle way than a concourse.”
After a talk with Artman (who noted among other things, the selected Mortensen design has a “patio” behind home plate, between team offices and luxury suites, that could be opened to the public), I tried bothering Phair yet again, leaving him a phone message. After a while, he responded by email:
“Please refer to Aaron Artman on these issues. I would rather not talk specifically on interpreting design and I have just communicated with him to try to clarify my intents…”
Judging by all of this, is it a concourse or not?