Amarillo City Council approves Western-Hunt to construct downtown ballpark

Jared Miller

The Amarillo City Council voted 4-0 Friday during a special meeting to approve Western-Hunt to move forward with the construction of the downtown ballpark, with the builders taking at risk management responsibility.


“We were just wanting to make sure we had the right delivery method to bring the project in on time and under budget,” said City Manager Jared Miller. “We were convinced that construction-manager-at-risk was the right way to go.”

Miller said the construction team pulled together to ensure the ballpark would be built according to the contract terms of $40.5 million by April 1, 2019. There are different levels for the entire project, which is budgeted at $45.5 million.

“That was the thing,” he said, “bring us the scope, inside the schedule, for the amount of money we have and they knocked it out of the park — pardon the pun.”

Miller said Western-Hunt — the partnership of Amarillo’s Western Builders and Indianapolis-based Hunt Construction Group — was the only company to submit a bid for proposal to the city for the multipurpose event venue. Western-Hunt was chosen for its skill and experience, he said.

“Hunt has national experience building dozens of these projects,” Miller said. “Western has local experience — they know how our dirt works, they know our vendors, our trades, our electricians, our dirt movers, our concrete companies — so it’s a perfect marriage of local experience and national sports facility experience.”

Mayor Ginger Nelson said the council and city “always want to support our local businesses.

“As a team, you always encounter difficulties that you have to work through. What came out of that is a stronger team … and it showed the dedication that we have to make this arrangement work. Difficulties are often opportunities in disguise.”

A reimagining of non-essential, aesthetic details to the ballpark were needed to bring the costs down, but Miller said the overall feel and look of the facility would not be altered.

Demolition of existing property on the Seventh Street site is already underway and Miller expects a groundbreaking ceremony to occur in the coming weeks.

Construction, including digging 14 feet below grade, is expected to be complete over in 13 or 14 months — in time for the city’s April 1 contractual deadline. Western-Hunt would be fined $25,000 per week if the deadline is not met.

Western Builders Vice President Mike Robertson said the firm was excited to bring the long-anticipated project to fruition, and the time constraints wouldn’t be an issue.

“If we didn’t have time to build the ballpark, the contract that you have in front of you, we wouldn’t be placing it in front of you,” he said. “It would be foolish on our part to do that.”

Hunt Construction Executive Vice President Monte Thurmond also said the project would be completed on time.

“We do this kind of work a lot,” Thurmond said. “We usually have anywhere from eight to 15 of these kinds of sports projects going on at any one time … I have been involved in delivering ballparks in less time than what we’ve got here.”

Thurmond, who said it was an honor to be in Amarillo, said he’s never missed an opening day after having been involved in delivering 23 sports projects across the country since 1984. He added that it would be “foolhardy” for them to sign a contract if they knew could not meet the terms.

“We’re here to serve you and help deliver the very greatest ballpark that we could possibly have for your city,” he said. “We’re already preparing for that first pitch on opening day.”

Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole was among the community members who attended the special meeting to show support for the project.

“A lot of people in that room and around this whole city have done a lot of base running to get us to this point … and this council is the one that touched home plate,” Harpole said. “Today they scored a big one for our city.”