Levi's Stadium


Levi’s Stadium Built with Teamwork


When they play Super Bowl 50 next February at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, it will be the latest demonstration of teamwork there. Union ironworkers from across California – and beyond – worked together for months to build the new $1.3 billion home of the San Francisco 49ers.

The 68,500-seat stadium, which opened in July 2014, has nearly twice the square footage of Candlestick Park and features open pedestrian plazas, commercial community space, a 49ers team store and a 49ers Hall of Fame. The concourses of the new stadium are 63 feet wide, on average, compared to just 19 feet in Candlestick. 

“A project this size required a huge workforce of skilled ironworkers,” says Charlie Hernandez, business agent with Local 377 (San Francisco, Calif.). “We had 10 Iron Worker locals on site at one time or another.”

“At the peak, we had more than 300 ironworkers on site at one time,” adds Local 377’s Business Manager Dennis Meakin.

Most of the ironworkers were members of Local 377, but contributing to the effort were members of Local 66 (San Antonio), Local Union 118 (Sacramento, Calif.), Local 86 (Seattle), Local 155 (Fresno, Calif.), Local 229 (San Diego), Local 378 (Oakland, Calif.), Local 416 (Los Angeles), Local 433 (Los Angeles) and Local 751 (Anchorage, Alaska).

Working with ironworkers from across the country was easier than you might think, says Ronald Johnson, one of four supervisors on the project for SME Steel. Others supervising the massive project included Alan Funston, general superintendent; Mike Britton, crane superintendent; and Rico Meagher, superintendent. Randy Miller of Southwest Steel was miscellaneous superintendent. The team of general foremen included George Harris, Ed Hayse, Rory Hogan and Jon Kalinowski.

“We’ve done work in several states, and I’ve always had a good rapport with the professionals at all the locals,” says Johnson, a San Jose-native and fierce 49ers fan.

“Ironworkers are highly skilled anyway, but some guys are better at some things than others,” Johnson adds. “We knew what guys could do what, and we put them in the best places for them to succeed.”

The logistics of the project were staggering, Johnson says. Bringing in the steel required an around-the-clock operation. About 30 trucks a day unloaded at the worksite. Before it was done, about 1,200 truckloads of steel were delivered.

The stadium itself was only part of the huge project. Building the pedestrian bridges that get fans from the parking lots to the stadium was an achievement in itself. The three bridges comprise 585 tons of steel. The arched “bow-string” trusses – three on the south side, two in the center and two more on the north – weigh 134,000 pounds each. The south bridge weighs 270 tons and measures 170 feet long, 24 feet high and 57 feet wide.

The trusses were placed using a 440-ton Manitowoc 1600 crane.

Levi’s Stadium, which will be the site of the 2016 Super Bowl, required 25,000 tons of steel to be erected. It would not be a quick or easy job. “Teamwork was essential,” says Meakin.

The stadium seats 68,500 fans, but can be expanded for special events. More than 70,000 fans attended an outdoor NHL game between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings. The stadium will be the site of a Taylor Swift concert in August.

Fans enjoy a variety of high-tech amenities, including stadium-wide Wi-Fi capability, mobile connectivity and high-definition video boards measuring over 13,000 square feet. And while the new stadium doesn’t seat as many as the old stadium did, there are more elevators, more escalators, more restrooms and more concession stands.

The new stadium is airy and open. The attractive white, painted steel structure of the stadium offers a unique viewing experience allowing people to enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding Silicon Valley.

Turner Devcon built the stadium under the terms of a project labor agreement. Signatory contractors on the job were Gerdau Reinforcing, SME Steel Contractors, Southwest Steel, Olson Steel, Camblin Steel, Northwest Signs and Danny’s Construction.

Levi’s Stadium is the first NFL stadium to earn a Gold LEED certification for environmental sustainability. Solar panels provide much of the electricity used at the stadium and much of the building material was recycled or reclaimed. Two out of every three tons of new steel is produced from old steel, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, making steel the most recycled material on the planet. The metallurgical properties of steel allow it to be recycled continually with no degradation in performance.
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