Renovation of fields, installation of new irrigation system planned to begin this summer at Ed Smith Stadium

Project has to be completed between Spring Training seasons for Baltimore Orioles

This is a section of the 2018 report regarding improvements needed at Ed Smith Stadium. Image courtesy Sarasota County

As the Baltimore Orioles continue their 2019 Spring Training season at Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota County is preparing for a $2.3-million project to renovate the practice and primary playing surfaces, as well as install a new irrigation system, before the 2020 Spring Training season begins.

With a unanimous vote of approval as part of its Feb. 26 Consent Agenda of routine business items, the County Commission approved three steps to make the improvements possible. They agreed to a $205,000 contract with Florida Transportation Engineering of Punta Gorda for architectural services related to the project; they agreed to a $20,000 contract with P.J. Hayes, which does business as Tandem Construction of Sarasota, for the company to serve as the construction manager at risk for the renovations in the pre-construction phase; and it authorized County Administrator Jonathan Lewis to approve amendments with Tandem as necessary for it to handle the construction phase of the project.

Some fencing and “batter’s eye” screens also will be replaced, according to a Feb. 26 staff memo to the board. Funding for the project is available from the Ed Smith Stadium Capital Repair account and a Tourist Development Tax account set aside for such uses, the memo explained.

This is a ‘batter’s eye’ at Ed Smith Stadium. Photo from the ZHA report, courtesy of Sarasota County

As noted in the construction manager at risk contract, Tandem will be responsible for providing a “baseline schedule and a cost estimate for the project”; establishing, implementing and maintaining quality control standards; and advising the project team “of ways to gain efficiencies in project delivery and reduce overall delivery time.” Tandem also will assist Florida Transportation Engineering with the necessary permitting processes.

In August 2018, Carolyn Brown, then-director of the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department (PRNR), explained to the County Commission that part of the county’s overall 30-year agreement with the Baltimore Orioles — approved in July 2009 — calls for periodic assessments of Ed Smith Stadium and the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes Park, which the Orioles also use. As a result of assessments undertaken by ZHA of Orlando at the county’s behest in February and March of that year, Brown pointed out, the county would need to address a number of issues over a 10-year period to maintain the facilities at the standards required by Major League Baseball.

Feb. 26 approval of the design consultant and construction manager at risk contracts, the staff memo indicated, was necessary to getting the project completed between the 2019 and 2020 Spring Training seasons for the Orioles. “[C]onstruction will need to begin in July 2019,” the memo added.

The supply and delivery of sod for the fields at Ed Smith Stadium will be handled separately by county staff “using the Invitation for Bids process,” the memo noted. Tandem will be responsible for the installation of the sod, the memo said. “The direct purchase of sod will help to guarantee that quality sod will be available for harvest by October 2019,” the memo added.