Just 14 short months after the Milwaukee Bucks broke ground on the team’s new downtown arena, they were back at the job site to celebrate crews putting in place the final steel beam needed atop the $524 million structure.
More than 700 construction workers gathered on Thursday inside the arena, standing where the basketball court will eventually be installed. They were there to witness the topping-off ceremony that was being held for a project they had been working on for well over a year.
Officials with Mortenson Construction noted that the work was on schedule and on budget and had so far proceeded without any worker being seriously injured. Mortenson’s Milwaukee office is managing the construction manager for the arena project.
“This is going to be an amazing arena, and a great facility on par with the best in the NBA,” Derek Kunz, senior vice president and general manager of Mortenson, said shortly before a crane operator lifted the final beam. “This is an amazing milestone, and it’s really because of the 700 workers that are working here today. The men and women that have put everything in place to get to this point.”
Although Thursday’s topping-off ceremony marked a milestone for the project, there is still plenty to do before the arena begins to play host to basketball games in the 2018-19 NBA season.
Mike Sorge, project director with Mortenson, said workers over the next few months will continue putting panels on the building’s outside, and will make steady progress on various interior work.
Crews will begin putting in seats in October, and will begin installing the building’s scoreboard in November. Designed by Brookings, S.D.-based Daktronics Inc., the arena scoreboard will cover more than three-quarters of the basketball court below; its four main displays will each measure about 25-feet high by 29-feet wide.
“After that’s up and in place, we’ll get started on the ice floor,” Sorge said.
The arena’s ice rink could be used for college or professional hockey games.
“And after that, we’ll continue with the rest of the finishes that are directly in the bowl,” Sorge said. “But while the bowl construction … is going on, every floor — the main concourse, the suite level, the upper concourse — we’ll be continuing with finishes and concessions installations and all of the other support and services that the customers will enjoy when they come to a game.”
Some additional site work will have to wait until the spring, Sorge said. Other than that, the rest of the project is on pace to be finished in the spring or summer of next year.
The arena’s construction comes with a number of inclusion goals, which include benchmarks for contracting with small- or disadvantaged-business enterprises and hiring resident-workers. So far, the work is exceeding these goals, local officials said on Thursday.
“I love seeing these jobs and this workforce, and I love knowing this is the same workforce that, if we have anything to do with it, and we will, is going to have a lot more to do in the future,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, a Bucks season-ticket holder of 15 years.
More than 2,000 craft workers have gone through orientation and worked on the job site so far, Kunz said.Follow @alexzank