When Miami Marlins ace Josh Johnson throws the first pitch in his team's home opener Wednesday, at least eight people in the crowd might be looking up, rather than down at the field.
Those eight fans in seats above third base will be at least as interested in the retractable roof over brand-new Marlins Park as they will be in the game being played below.
That's because their company, Loveland's LPR Construction, built it.
"For me, it was the project of a lifetime," said Peter Radice, manager of the project for LPR. Radice, company president Rocky Turner and other employees and spouses made it a point to get tickets for opening day.
"There are not a lot of times you get to see the finished product," Radice said.
Radice spent 12 months in 2010 and 2011 overseeing the roof installation - a $10.4 million project for his company. LPR teamed up with Canam, a structural steel fabricator, to build and install the three-section moveable roof.
Finally, a New Ballpark
The Miami Marlins - the recently renamed Florida Marlins of Major League Baseball's National League - have been trying for 15 years to have a baseball-only stadium built, according to Greg Cote, a columnist with the Miami Herald.
When Marlins Park is mentioned in news stories and online discussions, the roof usually gets top billing.
"The retractable roof, I would say, is the big selling point," Cote said Tuesday. "When they first conceived of this new stadium, that was a starting point," he said.
For years, the Marlins have hovered near the bottom of the National League in home attendance, Cote said. the owners maintained that they couldn't spend money on players unless they had a new stadium, he said, and "the main excuse by fans for not attending games down here is the threat of rain delays or the brutal heat and humidity."
So this week the owners and the fans get a new $515 million ballpark in the city's little Havana district.
Best of both Worlds
Cote said he expects the roof will be closed for most day games. "The ability to close the roof and all of a sudden have air conditioning is major," he said. And then at night, he thinks the roof will stay open, unless it's raining. "They designed the stadium so there's a view of downtown Miami, which when lit up at night is pretty impressive. I think they wanted the best of both worlds."
The creative solutions that LPR Construction and its partners devised to build and install the roof components won LPR a nationwide award last week. the Steel Erectors Association of America honored the Loveland company with its Project of the Year award for jobs of $1 million or more.
LPR's Radice said the complexity of the project likely earned the company the award.
To erect six 500-foot-long trusses weighing 119,000 pounds each 250 feet in the air took some ingenuity, he said. "There just aren't cranes that can do that."
Like Launching a Ship
LPR set up a temporary support system of shoring towers on which it built the trusses in pieces. then when it came time to move each assembled truss onto the stadium structure, it borrowed from the procedure used to launch ships into the water.
With the help of a Chicago house-moving company, LPR crews lowered the trusses on super-heavy-duty rollers in an "extremely smooth and controlled process," Radice said. "It's the first time that we know of that anything like this has been done."
Radice gave credit to the other companies working on the job. "The team mentality on the project was great," he said.
A large portion of LPR's crew on site came from Colorado, he said. "There were no injuries, no major hiccups," he added, "and we finished about a month ahead of schedule."
LPR has put up the steel for other eye-catching public structures, including Coors Field and the new wing of the Denver Art Museum, but this was its first retractable roof, Radice said.
"The last baseball stadium we did was Coors Field," he said. "It was kind of fun to get back into building something as American as baseball is."
Craig Young can be reached at 635-3634 or .
<a href="http://www.reporterherald.com/business/northern-business/ci_20318602/retractable-roof-new-miami-ballpark-wins-loveland-companytag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.reporterherald.com/business/northern-business/ci_20318602/retractable-roof-new-miami-ballpark-wins-loveland-companyTue, 03 Apr 2012 23:46:21 GMT">Retractable roof on new Miami ballpark wins Loveland company a national award