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Football Stadium Renovation Scores a Touchdown

Football Stadium Renovation Scores a Touchdown

Kansas City Chiefs get $375-million renovation and 450,000-sq-ft expansion to stadium, including $38-million worth of electrical installations

Home of the Kansas City Chiefs national football team, Arrowhead Stadium hosted its inaugural NFL game almost four decades ago on August 12, 1972. Unlike many sports arenas built around this time, Arrowhead hasn’t been demoted to a second-rate venue or demolished to make way for a shinier, more modern version. Instead, the 76,000-seat stadium recently underwent a $375-million renovation and 450,000-sq-ft expansion that helped make room for new amenities such as the Founder’s Plaza, Chiefs Hall of Honor, the Founder’s Club, the Chiefs Sports Lab (an area for students that features hands-on and interactive computer activities promoting the importance of good nutrition, healthy living, and physical fitness), a horizon level, a club level, and a team store. Furthermore, Arrowhead received a variety of enhancements, including an upgraded sound and scoreboard system, a 360° video ribbon board, concourses that are double in size, numerous improved food and beverage options, and 80% more restroom facilities.

“A large part of the renovation involved major new and retrofit electrical work,” says Dennis Stowell, vice president of Kansas City, Mo.-based Capital Electric Construction, the contractor that performed $38-million worth of electrical installations. “The first step of the project included relocating all the medium-voltage distribution feeders and switchgear feeding the complex to accommodate for the larger stadium footprint.”

Next, Capital Electric spent six months performing preconstruction estimating, design review, value engineering, and constructability reviews. Immediately after the 2008 post-season, the contractor began removing all normal and emergency electrical distribution systems with the understanding that power had to be restored by August 2009 for the upcoming football season.

“We constructed an elaborate $1-million temporary power distribution system to provide construction power and maintain essential services where permanent power was not available for the upcoming season,” explains senior project manager Troy Olson.

Capital Electric then set about replacing the regular and emergency power distribution system, which included the following number of items: 4,000A/2,000A substations (13), 30kVA to 2,500kVA transformers (98), 1,250kW generators (2), 600/800 transfer switches (12), and distribution panels and panelboards (530) with related feeders.

“We also installed 14,377 new lighting fixtures,” says Terry Vaughn, Capital Electric’s field general foreman. “This included site lighting and the Founder’s Plaza area, 422 sports light fixtures, plus the updating of existing sports lights to remain. In addition, we put in a lighting control system that contains 13 dimming systems and 110 controllable smart lighting panels.”

Other installations included electrical provisions for new mechanical and electric heat systems, heat tracing for plumbing and mechanical lines, and ground and lightning protection systems. Furthermore, Capital Electric ran 1.04 million ft of conduit and 3.75 million ft of wire and cable, and installed 8,600 wiring devices.

“The majority of this work had to be completed in just nine months,” says Stowell. “Thanks to an extensive collaborative effort led by the general contractor, Turner Construction, and all major subcontractors on the project, we completed almost 80% of our contract work prior to the 2009 season.”

Although Capital Electric has extensive experience with sports stadium construction, Stowell says this project was unique because it involved the total renovation of an existing football facility, spanning two NFL football seasons, while remaining operational.

“The Arrowhead Stadium project took 263,080 man-hours, peaked at 189 field electricians, and finished on schedule — just in time for the 2010 football season,” he notes.

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