DETROIT - The Detroit Lions and their fans will move into a new steel shrouded Ford Field in August.

Former Hudson's warehouse view also shows Detroit's Renaissance Center in the background, along the Detroit River.
DETROIT - Football can be a brutally cold weather sport. The Detroit Lions and their fans will stay comfortable, however, when they move into a new steel shrouded Ford Field in August, trading one outdated domed venue for a shiny new one.

Construction of the new Ford Field began in November 1999. The Lions' new home will be a one-of-a-kind 65,000-seat facility that will include a giant glass wall, revealing the picturesque Detroit skyline, and the old Hudson's (now Marshall Fields) Warehouse, originally built in 1920. The old Hudson's Warehouse, a major cornerstone of Ford Field, will house most of the stadium's luxury seats, press box, restaurants, food courts, a hotel, lounge areas, banquet facilities and retail and office space. The inclusion of the warehouse into the stadium project reportedly will make the sightlines of Ford Field among the best in the NFL.

The new stadium has already been selected as the host site of Super Bowl XL to be played February 5, 2006. It will mark the first Super Bowl hosted in the metro Detroit area since the Pontiac Silverdome was the site for Super Bowl XVI, played January 24, 1982.

Coincidentally, the Lions' first home game this year will be September 22 against their NFC nemesis, the Green Bay Packers, whose renovated Lambeau Field was featured in the January issue of Snips.

In the tradition of modern sports stadia, Ford Field will be more fan friendly, with improved creature comforts including wider concourses (gained in part through fewer seats), more luxury boxes (125) and amenities such as cupholders and more restrooms. Players will find the closest thing to real grass under any domed stadium.

Ventcon Inc., Allen Park, and Schreiber Corporation, Detroit, both SMACNA members, were selected as sheet metal contractors for the job. Ray Schemanske of Ventcon is president of SMACNA Metro Detroit

Schreiber Sheet Metal move rolls of Johns Manville insulation on site.

High wire act

According to Ventcon's Brad Grafmiller, the stadium will use 400,000 lbs. of rectangular duct and 12,000 lineal feet of spiral duct. There will be 41 air handling units, 194 fans and 18 kitchen hoods. The spiral duct is supplied by SEMCO, of Columbia, Mo. It is hung some 200 feet above the field level and is 66 inches in diameter.

Grafmiller said the ductwork on the south side of the stadium was installed using a JLG 150 aerial personnel lift, the world's largest mobile lift of its kind. "The ductwork on the north side of the stadium was installed several different ways," he said. "The trusses were assembled on the ground and then jacked into place. Although we were able to install some of the duct prior to the jacking, we were still approximately 40 feet off the ground. We also used a 75 ton crane with 175 feet of boom to lift two sheet metal workers in a basket to gain access to the duct that was lifted with the aid of another crane.

"The duct on the far north side had to be installed off of a scaffold that was erected off of the stadia of the upper bowl. On the west side of the stadium we had the most difficult installation. The west side was the first side to be excavated. This meant that we had no level surface to work from. We had a scaffold erected that was over 300 ft. long and 25 ft. wide erected above the stadium seating in the upper bowl. This scaffold was used as a work surface and staging area for the ductwork. The actual lifting of the duct was done with a 4,000 lb. chain hoist that was mounted up on the roof. The sheet metal workers were working from two swing stages that were also supported from above. All of the work had to done from above due to the lack of access from inside of the bowl.

"All of the ductwork was lifted from outside of the stadium with the aid of a 200 ton crane and placed on the scaffold platform through the steel prior to the roof decking being placed.

"The east side of the stadium is a mirror of the west but we were able to install this work prior to the excavation of the bowl. We used three 125 ft Genie boom lifts and one 55 ton crane to install the ductwork all while being chased by the excavators. We had to stay in front of the bowl excavation which was a 24 hour a day operation. We installed the duct for eight air handling units in less than 10 days. Each units duct consisted of return air duct that is 144"x 60" with a total weight of 4,500 lb. of duct. The supply air consists of 140"x 36" that transitions to 66"-dia. spiral duct and tees and supplies six supply air registers that are 72"x24" that each supply 10,000 cfm to the stadium. Each supply air assembly has a total weight of 6,000 lbs."

Exposed ductwork

The new stadium on the warehouse side makes liberal use of spiral ductwork from Lindab Inc., Stamford, Conn. As expected, an important decision that needed to be made early on in the project was the type of ventilation and ductwork system required for a space of this magnitude. The design called for exposed ductwork in the roof and walls, but installation cost and functionality were also critical.

Senior management at Heights Heating & Cooling, Inc. selected Lindab's SPIROsafe? duct system at Hudson's Warehouse, because it offered a combination of overall value and performance. Additionally, the ductwork components slipped together easily so duct sealant and tape were not necessary, making it ideal for exposed ductwork installation projects as demonstrated at the newly renovated space.

Jim Payne, project manager at Ford Field for Heights said, "Lindab is a big labor saver, is quicker to install and gives a very clean impression. Our client is extremely pleased with both the ductwork's design and function." Hudson's Warehouse has more than 21,500 feet of SPIROsafe Single Wall ductwork and more than 2,500 Lindab fittings.

"I would say that 90 to 95% of the ductwork is exposed, so it has to look good," said Payne, who has been with Heights for approximately four years. The company is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. It is owned by brothers Dan Rollin, president, and Steve Rollin, vice president, and Greg Gigler, the son of Jim Gigler who was Rollins' original partner.

Approximately 7,000 feet of rectangular ductwork was converted to round, and over 500 of Lindab's SPIRO-comfort? RGS-3 registers replaced the old round diffusers for better performance and overall aesthetics. Installation time is said to be about 25% less, so total cost was lower than for other duct systems.

About the project in general, Payne said he was "flattered" to be selected to head it up. He usually heads up five to eight projects at a time. This one is so massive that it consumes all his time... but that's a good thing. "It's nice to be on the same job every day," he said. "It was also a statement that they had trust and confidence in my abilities." He has worked in an office trailer just off the job site for nearly two years, away from the home office located near the Pontiac Silverdome, former home of the Lions.

Sheet metal foreman for the job was Roger Clark, who since has left the company, but was handily replaced by Tim Sementkowski.

Mechanical equipment for the job consists of three large, custom Governair rooftop units, with either steam coils for the warehouse or gas heat for the stadium, with cooling for both facilities via chilled water from three 2,000 ton York chillers.

Dan Rollin, who was a journeyman at age 18, said Heights is "Very proud of this job." Rollin serves on the board of directors of Detroit SMACNA. He said the Detroit economy is sound. "We finished up last year at around $41.5 million. We're not hurting for work, but we could always use more. Margins are under pressure." This busy commercial-industrial shop has three unions represented: SMWIA Local 80, Local 636 pipefitters and Local 80 plumbers. The number of employees fluctuates, but stands around 120 including both office and field staff.

The company started out as a hardware and supply company in then-named Auburn Heights, hence the name Heights Inc. A new 28,000-sq-.ft., two-story headquarters building and 16,000-sq.-ft. metal shop opened in 2001, with a new Lockformer plasma cutter on board.