Facing the loss of several key events in its aging and historic football stadium, the city of Dallas, joining forces with the State Fair of Texas, decided to take steps to protect the historic Cotton Bowl and expand its prospects for the future.

Addition & Renovation of the Historic Cotton Bowl Phase II, Dallas

The in-depth renovation project including adding fan amenities and restrooms; renovating locker room and team areas; and expanding the capacity of the iconic facility under a highly accelerated schedule.

The expansion brought the Cotton Bowl from a seating capacity of 76,000 to 92,000.

The September 2008 completion date gave builders eight months of construction time, and that was unmovable because the State Fair of Texas plays host every year to the Red River Rivalry, a football game featuring the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma.

The project team had to deal with the inherant difficulties of the design-build delivery method. The construction schedule moved at an extreme rate while drawings were continually updated and completed, often hours before construction was put in place.

While most stadiums are built from grade up, the main level of the Cotton Bowl sits atop an 18-ft-tall berm on a platform 60 ft wide. To maneuver a drilling rig in such a situation is precarious at best, and crews needed to position five drilling rigs on the same sloping end zone. To keep workers safe during drilling required extremely close supervision by Charter Builders’ superintendents and onsite safety adviser, along with the subcontractor’s foreman.

Conditions beneath the site were less than ideal, which complicated completion of pier and grade beam placement. At 122 years old, Fair Park has been constructed and reconstructed over the years, many times with little or no record of the underground work performed. The site is littered with unmarked utility, phone, data and gas lines.

In the berm alone, crews ran into these lines on nearly a weekly basis, causing significant delays. On top of the unmarked utilities, the soil conditions were such that every pier needed to be cased the entire depth of the shaft to prevent the shaft walls from caving in on them.

The addition and renovation of the Historic Cotton Bowl Phase II project also received a Special Award for Best Project Management in the Texas Construction Best of 2009 awards, an honor it shares with the NRG Cedar Bayou project.

Key Players

Submitted by: Charter Builders

Owner: City of Dallas Parks and Recreation Dept., State Fair of Texas and Cotton Bowl Athletic Association, Dallas
Design-build project manager and architect: Heery International Inc., Dallas
Preservation architects: Quimby McCoy Architects, Dallas
General contractor: Charter Builders Ltd. – A Heery International Co., Dallas
Structural end civil engineer: Jaster-Quintanilla, Dallas
MEP engineer: Campos Engineering Inc., Dallas
Electrical contractor: Gentzler Electrical Services Inc., Dallas
Plumbing contractor: S&K Plumbing, Haltom City
Concrete contractor: Sizelove Construction, Euless
Grandstands contractor: Southern Bleacher Co., Graham
Masonry contractor: DMG Masonry, Arlington