Case Studies

Elm Fork Athletic Complex: Building Recreational Space in Dallas

  • Written by: Elm Fork Athletic Complex: Building Recreational Space in Dallas
  • Produced by: Elm Fork Athletic Complex: Building Recreational Space in Dallas
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The Dallas, Texas, Park and Recreation Board adopted a plan in 2007 for a new athletic complex situated on 138 acres. The Elm Fork Athletic Complex (EFA) is now under construction in an effort to provide better recreational opportunities to community members and revitalize an area on the Elm Fork Flood Plain that was once used as a landfill.

Rogers-O’Brien Construction Company (RO) is managing the EFA project. “We started in September 2011,” says Tim Storms, senior project manager for RO. The athletic complex will be completed by the beginning of 2013 and is scheduled to open in September of the same year.

The complex, which hosts soccer fields for local and traveling teams, has been in the planning stages since 2002 when the local Park and Recreation Board recognized the need for 120 additional soccer fields in Dallas. The project presents unusual challenges aside from athletic surface installation and maintenance. The innovative complex has been designed to improve drainage and environmental quality on the selected site.

Playing Ball

Overall, the EFA complex will cover 80 acres of the projected site. When the project is complete, Dallas will have 19 pristine soccer fields. Five of the soccer fields will be youth practice fields in addition to the 14 full-sized fields, 10 of which will have lighting. In addition, the championship field will feature covered stands, concessions, restrooms, offices and conference rooms, a ticket sales office and storage for sports gear and maintenance equipment.

RO has accumulated a team of professionals with a broad range of expertise, ensuring the company tackles the new complex with ease. RO is working with leading landscapers, lighting technicians and pavers, among other skilled subcontractors. The team is not seeking LEED certification, but many of the materials and design principles are “green.” Paved surfaces are utilizing recycled concrete, which is 40-percent fly ash. “Most everything we’re doing out here uses recycled materials, right down to the fencing,” says Storms.

When EFA is complete in 2013, the space will be utilized by local teams of all ages, as well as used to attract visiting teams for championship games. Storms reports that the complex will be the largest soccer tournament venue in Dallas and local officials believe it will benefit the local economy with high-end amenities and an impressive spectator capacity.

Making Adjustments

EFA has been one of the most unique projects Storms has ever managed. “It was scheduled for completion in September 2012, but there have been a lot of additions in scope,” he explains. “The location for the project is the site of a former landfill.”

The environmental impact studies and adjustments have presented some delays for the business as well as geotechnical design elements. “I’ve been with this company since 1997 and I’ve never dealt with anything like this,” notes Storms. “I’ve never had a project that changed so much from the beginning because of unforeseen conditions.”

The former landfill site has presented environmental and structural challenges that have resulted in major redesigns for the project. Grading and drainage are key to the durability of the fields, as the site is also part of a flood plain, and the future soccer fields will need a well-designed runoff path so the sod can grow. With nearly 20 different fields of high-maintenance playing grass, the city has tight requirements for drainage and irrigation planning.

The underlying landfill, filled with gradually decaying matter, presents challenges to utility installation and structural design. “We are constructing a large retaining wall along Walnut Hill on the northern end of the site,” explains Storms. “After excavation, we determined that the wall would be sitting directly on top of the trash. The entire wall had to be redesigned and reinforced. We also had to install water and sanitary sewer mains on site. It’s definitely not standard procedure to install that over a landfill.”

With most of the major dirt work complete, RO will begin laying sod in April 2013. “That’s our big push right now,” says Storms. “We will be sodding all the adult fields, and the youth fields will be sprigged.”

Despite the setbacks, the RO team is still pushing through, and the fields will be ready for play by summer 2013. “We’ve been finding the best and most economical way to get through,” details Storms. “We’re keeping a schedule with built-in milestones to keep everyone up to date and we have an owners meeting every Wednesday.”

While the project has been challenging, RO was the perfect choice. The team has been working with owners and subcontractors to make suitable adjustments. And, despite delays, Storms and his team at Rogers-O’Brien Construction Company are confident in the quality of work. Next summer, Dallas will have a unique sports complex, encouraging soccer players and enthusiasts to flock to Elm Fork Athletic Complex to catch a game and check out the new venue.

Published on: April 2, 2013

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