When the cry of “Play Ball!” echoed along the Arkansas River in North Little Rock this spring, Razorback Concrete could take some pride in knowing it helped usher in an exciting new era in the storied tradition of Arkansas professional baseball.
Beginning in April 2006, Razorback Concrete’s North Little Rock and Crystal Hill plants supplied some 11,000 cubic yards of concrete for Dickey-Stephens Field, the impressive new baseball stadium for the hometown Arkansas Travelers AA baseball team.
Used for the 5,500-seat stadium’s seating areas, concourses, sidewalks, curb and guttering, and infield and outfield walls, Razorback Concrete’s ready-mix provided a solid foundation for a park the club hopes will last as long as its 75-year-old predecessor.
Dickey-Stephens Field replaces Ray Winder Field, opened in 1932 in Little Rock under the name Travelers Field and hailed at the time as an “all new steel and concrete facility.” Renamed Ray Winder field in 1966 for the general manager who helped keep the team in Arkansas, it was home to the “Travs” through the end of the 2006 season. From 1896 to 1931, the Travs, who were the Little Rock Travelers until 1961, played in Kavanaugh Field. Quigley Stadium now occupies that stadium’s old site.
Supplying concrete for the new $25 million stadium, which sits on 11 acres on the banks of the Arkansas River, was a big, high-profile job for Razorback, says Steve Horton, who supervised the project for the company.
It was a long, drawn-out process that required us and the general contractor to have a quality-control person at the site regularly,” Horton said. “Concrete was used in almost every aspect of the job.
Charlie Barnard, project manager for the general/concrete contractor and co-developer, Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Greeley, Colo., said concrete quality and timeliness of deliveries was an important consideration.
There were some pretty tight tolerances on the line and grade of concrete used in the bowl seating area, and an Efco forming system, really helped with the process,
Beyond pure functionality, Razorback Concrete’s ready-mix also contributes to the new ballpark’s aesthetics, which incorporates a railroad theme reflective of the city’s history. About 300 yards of colored concrete adorns the surface of the main, first-base and third-base entrances. Two separate colors – Brownstone and Stetson Buff – were used to form decorative, diamond-shaped designs.
While Razorback Concrete provided a solid foundation for the new ballpark, the colored concrete gives it a distinctive, welcoming look that greeted what was expected to be an April 12 opening night sellout crowd.
As opening night drew near, team officials and city dignitaries were lauding what the Travs termed the “finest facility in all of minor league baseball.” Featuring suites, reserved seating, spectator amenities and a state-of-the-art scoreboard, the stadium is seen as an important community asset.
The ballpark is a tribute to the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock coming together as one community,
said Warren A. Stephens, the Little Rock businessman who donated the riverfront land for the park.
I have said this before, but I firmly believe that the river that has divided us can now become the river that joins us.
As Razorback Concrete works to sink roots in both cities and become more of a factor in its growing Central Arkansas construction industry, it can proudly say it had a hand in building something around which residents are sure to rally.