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AHL looks to score with Yardmen Arena reno

Patricia Williams
AHL looks to score with Yardmen Arena reno
The 39-year-old Yardmen Arena in Belleville, Ont. is being expanded and renovated to provide a home for the new Belleville Senators franchise. The seating capacity will be expanded and the dressing room and other facilities upgraded. The project is being undertaken for the city by a team that includes Ball Construction Ltd. and Architecture49. Occupancy is scheduled for Nov.1. -

With an eye to providing a home for the American Hockey League’s (AHL) new Belleville Senators franchise, the city of Belleville, Ont. is renovating and expanding its 39-year-old Yardmen Arena.

The fast-track project, being undertaken by the team of Ball Construction Ltd. and Architecture49, will in part expand seating to a minimum capacity of 4,400. It will also provide a 9,000-square-foot home team dressing room and 1,000-square-foot visitor dressing room. Other upgrades are planned as well.

"The building is solid and very well built," said city project director Mark Fluhrer, of recreation, culture and community services.

"However, as with any renovation, there are always unforeseen, hidden challenges. But, so far, nothing has come to light."

He said the renovated facility will meet both National Hockey League and AHL standards.

City council approved an overall budget for the project of $20.5 million. The construction budget is $17 million, Fluhrer said. Occupancy is scheduled for Nov. 1, 2017.

"The construction manager (Ball) had to get up to speed quickly and start construction ASAP in order to meet the occupancy date."

Mark Fluhrer

City Project Director

The multipurpose arena was built in 1978. While there have been a number of upgrades over the years, Fluhrer said the facility has been due "for a significant renovation."

He said various upgrades and the expansion of the seating capacity were required to accommodate the Belleville Senators, an affiliate of the Ottawa Senators team.

The city last fall signed a long-term lease with Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk to bring the team to Belleville.

Kitchener-based Ball Construction was retained in mid-November to provide "construction manager (CM) at-risk" services. It has since provided a guaranteed maximum price to the city.

Fluhrer said Belleville opted for this approach in order to minimize its potential risks in light of tight timelines, the fixed deadline for occupancy and the fact that a 39-year-old building is being renovated.

"We had engaged the architect and related consultants early in the process," he said.

"The construction manager (Ball) had to get up to speed quickly and start construction ASAP in order to meet the occupancy date."

Since being awarded the contract, Ball has been fully engaged in the project, including a raft of pre-construction activities. The firm has been on site since Dec. 5.

As of late February, 60 per cent of the subtrade contracts had been tendered, Fluhrer said.

He said the city is confident at this juncture "and becoming even more confident as each day passes" that the project will in fact be completed on schedule.

"Key milestones are being met," Fluhrer said. "And things are moving along very quickly. Architecture49 had a head start and Ball is doing a great job keeping on top of the schedule."

Ball vice-president and estimating manager Gary Hauck said typically 75 per cent of his company’s annual volume is performed under a CM at-risk process.

He said the biggest challenge on the Belleville arena expansion and renovation project is the schedule.

"As a team, we cannot be late for the upcoming hockey season," he explained.

Ball has collaborated with Architecture49 on a number of projects in the province, including the Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines.

The award-winning project was delivered on a design-build basis in joint venture with Rankin Construction.

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