Builder tallying Braves’ stadium cost

Strip away money for the lawyers, architects, land and other “soft” costs, and the new Atlanta Braves stadium is expected to cost between $476 million and $500 million — or about half that of the new Falcons facility, which is twice as large.

The cost of labor and materials for ballpark construction is called the Guaranteed Maximum Price, or the amount that contractor American Builders says will not be exceeded when building SunTrust Park. The contractor is responsible for overruns, unless the team or county requests changes that drive up the cost.

The overall budget for the stadium is $622 million — a figure that includes all costs associated with the stadium project, not just construction.

American Builders and the Braves are still finalizing the guaranteed price, which is not expected for a couple of months. But documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution under Georgia’s Open Records Act show that the initial estimate came in at $535 million, before value engineering lowered the price to $476.6 million. Value engineering is a common way of reducing construction costs on projects.

The latest guaranteed price without value engineering is $500 million, according to a December 2 document.

All of the documents provided to the AJC are heavily redacted, with amounts for individual budgeted line items blacked out. American Builders cited the “trade secrets” exemption to the open records law as the reason.

What was visible were each line item expense category and bottom-line totals. The documents show that all aspects of the ballpark are considered when calculating the guaranteed price, from foundations and plumbing to caulking and door frames.

“On fast-track projects, such as SunTrust Park, the construction may commence prior to the design being finalized,” Rob Taylor, principal-in-charge of the project for American Builders, wrote in response to emailed questions. “As information becomes available, the budget is developed … until the design reaches final completion, at which point the budget is set as the GMP, or contract amount.

“The GMP protects the owner because it establishes a maximum price based on the defined scope” of the project.

American Builders is a joint venture between four companies: Brasfield & Gorrie, Mortenson Construction, Barton Malow Company and New South Construction Company.

Derek Schiller, the Braves executive vice president for sales and marketing, said the architect has submitted design documents for the contractor to calculate the guaranteed price.

“The GMP is a very, very detailed document,” Schiller said. “It includes (details of) the overall general structure … where the walls are located, how big those walls are, the number of seats, the number of clubs.

“All the big things are certainly designed in there, but it goes down to the very specific levels — the number of lights and light switches inside the ballpark, what exact light we are going to use, the sizing of the steel, the sizing of the handrails, where there’s glass handrails versus metal.”

The Falcons $1.078 billion guaranteed maximum price has been known for two months. The overall budget for that facility is $1.4 billion.

Both stadiums are scheduled to open in 2017. But there are significant differences between the two stadiums that affect cost:

The Falcons’ stadium will have 71,500 seats, 2 million square feet, 190 suites and a retractable roof; the Braves facility will have 41,500 seats, 1.1 million square feet and 40-45 suites.

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority board approved the Falcons’ guaranteed price, and a $200 million increase to the overall project budget, by a 13-1 vote on Dec. 2.

Board member Taz Anderson objected to the higher budget, saying he didn’t want the GWCC board associated with the increase in cost because “someone is going to get blamed.”

Falcons executive vice president/chief financial and administrative officer Greg Beadles said the guaranteed price for the stadium was agreed upon with the general contractor – the Holder Hunt Russell Moody joint venture – after design drawings were finalized and bids were obtained for 93 percent of the stadium work.