Madison City Council hires contractor for stadium project

MADISON, Ala. - At a special called meeting, the Madison City Council awarded a bid for ballpark and multi-use venue construction to Hoar Construction out of Birmingham.

This means that the council has hired a contractor and knows how much the initial price tag is to build it: $38,771,941.00.

"We are just tickled to death with the way it came out," said Tommy Overcash, Madison City Council President, of the bid process. He said they were "ecstatic" about the winning bid.

3 bidders qualified, and 1 backed out before the bidding process began. 2 bids came in for the project, and Overcash said the winning bid was "substantially better," but either option would have been "fantastic."

The Construction Phase

Mayor Paul Finley said that Thursday, the city will have a meeting with Hoar Construction start the construction phase of the project.

The bid has allowed the city to come in under budget on the project so far. Leaders say the total cost, which includes paying architects for the design (what it calls soft costs) on top of the construction portion, remains under the $46 million figure the mayor has routinely said is Madison's top price.

But the bid the council approved Tuesday is just a base price, what Overcash calls the "bare minimum." That still includes most of what the team wants in the stadium, though.

"The boxes, the patio areas, the berm, the picnic areas. It's going to be a first-class stadium," Overcash noted.

Other options have been left out, with the impression that the council can submit change orders later to add them back in when possible.

"Every time now that we put something in, we've got to take something out to make sure we keep that number where it needs to be," Finley said about towing the $46 million line. "One thing we do have in our favor is going a little bit higher based on interest. The good news is, with having the money now, we're able to over time, accrue a little bit more."

We asked Overcash about what other options the city and BallCorps are still working to fit into the stadium and its budget.

"One of the big ones is an item called the 'Rock Porch' that we all want in. It's one of the more significant pieces that was bid as an option because number one, it's something that can be added later. It's not integral to the main part of the stadium," Overcash said. "There's some awning covers above the main entrance to it, some railing and stuff in the stadium. And a whole host of small things that our director of planning is continuing to work to try to get that price down just a little bit."

Another item the city and BallCorps have discussed is a children's area. Overcash said they're looking for community support on that one, and if they don't get it the city might be able to foot the bill down the road at a later time.

"We're looking to try to find somebody, like a local business or something that would like to fund the children's area. We have the infrastructure there, the wiring, the electricity, the support. So that's another item we were able to take out at this time and continue to try to secure funding," Overcash said.

Overcash told us the team is motivated, and he is confident many of the add-on items will be able to be included in the stadium once it is complete.

Leaders say a special called meeting was necessary in order to keep the project on schedule by approving a bid quickly.

"With the winter coming on. The weather. you really just never know. We wanted to maximize our chance for success," Overcash explained.

He said the goal is to finish the stadium by the end of 2019, to make it ready for a 2020 season.

"That gives us several months to do some non-baseball events to get all the kinks worked out and be thoroughly ready," he explained.

The Lease, License, and Management Agreement

Also discussed, but not quite ready for a vote Tuesday was a series of amendments to the city's lease, license, and management agreement with BallCorps. They held a first reading of the ordinance change and will take a vote at the upcoming meeting on this issue.

The city needs to change it because the original agreement stipulates that Madison should be a primary word in the team's name. Since the team will be named the Rocket City Trash Pandas, that clause needs to be removed.

The city will also vote on other changes, including changing the amount of utility costs BallCorps vs the city will be responsible for. BallCorps will have an increased share of the utility costs for the stadium (75%) in exchange for the name not including Madison.

Overcash said he is satisfied with this arrangement going forward.

"I am actually. I think we're getting where we need to be. Everything from the groundbreaking success, the participation in the name the team contest... there has just been worldwide interest in merchandising already," he stated.