Taylor Price - 49ers.com
It takes a complete team effort to win football games in the National Football League. The same can be said when it comes to constructing one of the nation’s premier professional football stadiums and outdoor entertainment venues.
In the case of the new Santa Clara Stadium, the future home of the San Francisco 49ers, constant communication amongst an estimated 300 daily construction workers has enabled steady progress on the stadium site. Much like the 49ers coaching staff, the construction workers in Santa Clara have to be in constant communication in order to see desired results.
Project executive Jack Hill sees the dialogue taking place on a daily basis. Hill oversees a massive operation that’s been segmented into four active quadrants. In fact, the stadium’s progress to this point wouldn’t be so evident if not for an aggressive construction plan.
“We’re literally working in four places simultaneously and then those four pieces will come together,” Hill said earlier this week when giving 49ers.com an exclusive tour of the stadium site that’ll soon be offered to potential suite clients and season-ticket holders. “It’s almost like having four separate construction projects happening at the same spot at the same time.”
“Our contractor, TDJV (Turner Devcon Joint Venture), has done a great job of scheduling all the activities out here,” Hill added. “One of the things they told us to be able to meet our schedule, we need to be able to work all four quadrants at one time. The suite tower, they look at that like a project within itself.”
Crane operators, for example, have to be aware of where their counterparts are located at all times on the construction site. Compared to the current football team, the talks are similar to coordinators Greg Roman, Vic Fangio and Brad Seely all working together to carry out head coach Jim Harbaugh’s vision for the team.
“They all know where each other is at all times,” Hill said of the crane operators. “It’s very important to communicate because they have a swing radius and they have to be closely coordinated on how they operate.”
The cranes, themselves, are quite the instrument. Standing 338-feet tall at full height and weighing 330 tons, it takes 18 flat beds just to assemble one crane. The cranes also have 400,000 pounds of counter balance and are able to lift 20,000 pounds of weight (roughly 60.6 Isaac Sopoaga’s) when the mast is at a 45-degree angle.
The Austrian-made cranes (approximately 30 are in the U.S.) will be used to erect the stadium’s steel off of 3,000 installed auger cast piles. Hill said 45,000 cubic yards of concrete have already been poured underground. Four of the cranes will be used on the stadium site; three are currently on the ground with a fourth soon to be erected.
“That’s a tremendous effort to have all that work in place before the steel getting here,” Hill added. “We’ve had great cooperation from the workers here.”
In October, pre-cast work will take over the stadium site.
“Those are the pieces the seats will attach to,” Hill explained. “When the steel operation is done during the day, new crews will come in at night erecting the pre-cast.”
According to Hill, double-shift work will take place daily in October. It’s quite impressive considering how much has happened in a short period of time. Already, the construction crews have started laying down steel for the stands, helping the footprint of the stadium take shape.
“The fans, if they drive by, will start to see a lot of activity with the steel,” Hill said.
And while Hill said 300 workers have been on the site daily in July, 1,000 workers have already taken a necessary construction safety seminar. Hill also estimates 1,600 workers will be on the stadium grounds each day within the next six to eight months.
Though the stadium’s footprint is beginning to be recognized by the untrained eye, perhaps the most intriguing physical feature of the stadium site is its “monument.”
As Hill pointed out, the entire stadium project is designed from the 50-yard line and out. One of the first acts on the site was marking the 50.
“It’s very important to maintain,” said Hill, who explained how electronic measurement tools were used to locate the monument.
Amongst the piles of concrete, large yellow cranes and a sea of construction workers, stands a small hole with a large reflector and three big orange cones circling it. The reflector device uses a laser to help with accurate measurements.
“All of our measurement is now electronic,” Hill said. “They use lasers to actually locate the walls, the columns, all the critical points. The stadium itself is gridded off with a grid line. Each grid has an address – a letter and a number. All of our column lines and wall lines are all based on this grid.”
The last, and most important aspect of the stadium construction, is the use of electricity. Without it, there wouldn’t be the type of progress that’s been made to date.
“You want to get your electrical distribution in place so you can start giving areas for the workers to work,” said Hill, sharing insight on the activity taking place in the project’s southwest quadrant, close to the front of the team’s current headquarters in Santa Clara.