Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Final Words With Matt Haas

To review, last Friday, Matt Haas--Project Executive for Clark Construction--was kind enough to sit down with Sohna and I to go over the Construction Schedule for New Nationals Park. Today, is the conclusion of that interview.

Here we go.

How about those Cherry Trees—is that going to happen? (SBF)

“Yes, we got 8 going into the centerfield area between the garages. Then, we got six additional that The Nationals are paying for next to the centerfield restaurant. Those Cherry Trees are tagged and in a nursery in New Jersey. We are going to plant them. I can’t really say if they are going to bloom at the right time. It all depends on the whim of the weather.”

You are aware of the efforts to put three Statues of former Washington Baseball Greats in this ballpark. And, the painting of pictures of former Washington Players on the Columns along the concourse. Are you directly involved in any of that? (SBF)

"No, The Arts & Humanities Commission has provided an outside funding source for the statues. They will be placed in The Main Entry Plaza, I believe. And, The Nationals have hired an interior decorator to work on those paintings and other interior designs to help spruce up the park. But, we are not involved directly in those actions."

If the retail area we are sitting in right now will now be ready come Opening Day, will the Nationals Office Building being built adjacent to the ballpark be ready? (SBF)

“Yes, it will be ready. (Really, Mr. Kasten told me if the team didn’t move into the offices until mid-season that would be all right with him. It was the least of his worries. SBF). Well, that would be up to him when he wants to move in. But, we plan to be ready unless something changes drastically. We will be ready for team. If they want to move in later—that's their prerogative.”

Are there any other spots in the stadium that might not be ready on Opening Day? (SBF)

“We are planning to have the entire ballpark ready--which is everything except that retail space. That being said, there is possibility that certain areas—for example: a concession. There might be a problem with a concession, where something could come up. In that case, we would try to isolate it and not have it open. But, our goal is to have everything ready by Opening Day.”

“We will be Baseball Ready by Opening Day. That’s what we owe by contract. To us, that essentially means fans can come in, watch a baseball game, safely. They can buy a hotdog and a beer, or a soda. They can use the facilities, buy tickets, souvenirs—and that, is baseball ready.”

At one time, there was talk of putting some type of large baseball on top of the Centerfield Restaurant with a 3D Display. Is that still in the works? (SBF)

“I have heard rumors, but nothing we are formally, or informally involved with.”

The HDTV Frame is up, the Nationals Logos are in place on it. How soon will the HDTV Screen be completed? (SBF)

“It goes in LED Panel by LED Panel. We are putting it in place right now. They are going in right now. Soon, it will be ready.”

Are there any other HDTV Screens to be placed in the outfield walls? That was mentioned as a possibility by the team, previously? (SBF)

“No, not that I know of.”

How far along are the team clubhouses and suites? (SBF)

“The Home Team Clubhouse is well along. The Lockers are going in. We are a couple of weeks away from putting carpet in. We are still finishing up tile in the showers. The Hydro Therapy Pools are in. The glass for all the suites is arriving right now. That arrival will allow us to start finishing off all the appointments. The Millwork (The Cabinets) all arrives this coming week. Most of the suites are prime painted already. The Suites will not be any issue in completing.”

How about The Press Box? (SBF)

“Also, moving along nicely. The Glass Sliders for them arrived yesterday (last Thursday, October 25th). The Press Box is all framed out. The platforms are there. The View up there is pretty stunning. The best views in the entire ballpark. The Press Box is in great shape.

When Centerplate actually tries to get their concessions up and running—will that get into the way of your construction? (SBF)

“It could, but we are going to have to work closely with anybody that needs to get in here. We must coordinate deliveries. But, its not too much difference than any other construction job—whether it’s an office building or a stadium. But, our goal is to get those areas done (needed by Centerplate) and hand over the keys to them, so they can do get their work completed.”

“What we have been fortunate with is dry weather. Good weather has allowed our crews to continue on pace to complete this project on time.”

Final question. All fans really care about is come here on Opening Day. And, when they come in here—everything they want to see will be up and ready to go. Whether that’s buy a hot dog; sit in their seat to enjoy the baseball game; look at the view. That will all be available to them--correct? (SBF)

“All of those things will be available.”

You are confident? (SBF)

“Yes, I am confident.”

With that, My Conversation with Matt Haas concludes. What was fascinating about seeing New Nationals Park last week was--not only how far along the stadium has come--but how much more needs to be completed. From our novice construction eyes, there is still alot to be done. The basics all appear to be in place. And, It's time to start filling in the blanks. 5 Month seems like enough time to finish off this project. Although, I just hope they don't come across any major delays. That would be a setback.


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