The classic arched openings that invite fans into Busch Stadium are a St. Louis icon. Designed by HOK Sport, Kansas City, Mo., the new ballpark evokes the arches found in historic local designs, such as the nearby Cupples Station brick warehouses and the Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River. And the bleachers offer a view of the city's most celebrated symbol, the Gateway Arch.

The stadium was built on a fast-track schedule with Heitkamp Masonry, St. Louis, in a joint venture with River City Contracting LLC, St. Louis, serving as one of the prime contractors. “The schedule was our greatest challenge,” said Geoff Hart, project director for Heitkamp. “We had to hand lay 750,000 brick and over 1,000,000 CMU in 15 months, all in conjunction and sequence with other trades.” Developing time- and labor-saving strategies were critical, and Heitkamp started planning the logistics of the $12 million masonry contract a year before work was scheduled to begin.

Several techniques helped streamline the work. The architects were present on the jobsite so any needed design modifications could be made on the spot. Delivery was closely coordinated among trades because the site was so tight that storage was limited to materials needed for one day's work. Solutions were devised to maximize worker productivity and keep materials moving.

Heitkamp's masonry crew of 35 bricklayers and 17 laborers were busy on six floors, sharing workspace with several other trades. It would have been impractical to convey mortar and grout by crane from an outside mixing station to the various crew locations. Instead, Heitkamp used a silo mortar/grout batching system more typically found on smaller projects. “We were able set it up no more than 20 yards away from where we were working,” said Hart. “That really saved labor time.”

Another hurdle came from local jurisdictional rules requiring two workers to handle any block weighing more than 30 lbs. Heitkamp worked with Kirchner Block and Brick, St. Louis, to develop a concrete mix design that would produce units lighter than 30 lbs, effectively doubling productivity for that portion of the work. “We demonstrated to the architect and owner that the lighter block met the specs for compressive strength and water penetration and would greatly increase efficiency,” explained Hart.

While some 3000 construction workers from 100 local firms built the new stadium, the St. Louis Cardinals played out the 2005 baseball season in the adjacent old Busch Stadium, situated in what would essentially become the left-field seats of the new ballpark. By the end of the season, construction was about three-quarters complete, forming what Hart likened to a “horseshoe around the right half of the existing building.”

Within 30 days after the last game, the old stadium was demolished and crews had about five months to complete the new one. The deadline was met and on April 10, 2006, the Cardinals hosted the Milwaukee Brewers and 44,000 fans for the season opener in its new $365 million home.

Project Participants

  • Masonry Contractors: Heitkamp/River City Contracting LLC, Heitkamp Masonry, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Masonry Subcontractors: A&L Restoration, Craftsmen Insulation, Kirkwood Masonry, Lindberg Waterproofing, and George McDonnell & Sons Tuckpointing
  • Architect: HOK Sport, Kansas City, Mo.
  • General Contractor: Hunt Construction Group in partnership with Kwame Building Group Inc.
  • Suppliers: Missouri Brick & Supply Co., Richards Brick Co., Belden Brick Co., Architectural Art Stone, Kirchner Block and Brick, United Cast Stone, Irwin Products, and Brennan Tools and Fastening Systems