INDIANAPOLIS -- Construction is on schedule for the July 1984 dream-to-become-reality -- the Hoosier Dome in downtown Indianapolis.
With no serious weather or building problems so far, the work on the project southwest of the downtown circle is about 60 percent complete, project manager Alan J. Armstrong said Thursday.
'The project is scheduled for completion in July of 1984 and we will meet that date,' Armstrong said.
From its humble beginnings at the groundbreaking ceremony May 27, 1982, the Hoosier Dome has taken shape and now looks like an open air coliseum. The walls are all up, and passersby can see cranes sticking out from inside the structure.
Inside, the cranes were used Thursday to place the concrete slabs which anchor all the seats. The seats won't be installed until the fiberglass fabric top is put on sometime in August or September, said Armstrong.
There is a lot of work that won't be done until the top is put up, Armstrong said. That includes putting in the concrete floor, which will support the artificial turf used for athletic events.
The entire dome has to be sealed airtight before much of the inside work is done. Like most of the other domes built in America, the entrances will be revolving doors to keep the inside air in and the outside air out.
At the same time, the air is being circulated from the top of the dome, down through air ducts surrounding the floor, then back up to the top of the stadium to be recirculated.
'If we wanted to, we could have a complete change of air in 20 minutes,' Armstrong said.
But all of that is in the future. In the 11 months since the groundbreaking, Armstrong said construction work 'has gone fairly well. Most of the work is being done by local contractors, and they are taking a lot of pride in their work. The union people are taking extreme pride in their work. Things have fallen together pretty well.'
Armstrong said the mild winter did not speed up the construction schedule, but was preferable to having a heavy winter.
'It helps, but it's hard to say how much,' Armstrong said about the warm winter. 'If you know its going to be that way, you can gear up for it. But we didn't know.'
Along with the domed stadium, which will have permanent seating for 60,000 and will cost $75 million, an exhibition hall is being built south of the current Indiana Convention Center building.
'A lot of people still don't understand,' Armstrong said. 'We're expanding the convention center. We will have 300,000 square feet of space for conventions. Facilities-wise, we could easily handle a political convention.'
Still, it is the domed stadium's sports uses about which most people care. There are groups trying to bring professional football and baseball into the stadium, and, for the most part, the stadium is being designed with those two sports in mind.
However, there will have to be one important change in the stadium for baseball. Those concrete slabs being placed for seating are of a permanent nature, and the entire north section of lower level seats would have to be removed and converted into movable seating for the baseball diamond.
'We've built it to make it (the conversion) easier to do,' said Armstrong. 'For a variety of reasons we've decided to go ahead with this plan for convention and trade show business.'
He estimated the cost of the conversion at $5 to $6 million.
The dome material is identical to that on top of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, which has had its dome fall three times since it was completed, once due to heavy snow. Armstrong said the news made him cringe 'just the first time.'
'We've tried to find out what caused it each time,' he said. 'So far, the things that have caused problems there should not be a problem here.'
No interior walls have been built inside the stadium, but plans call for around 100 private suites to be included between the lower and upper levels of the stadium. A news conference is set for Tuesday to announce plans for selling the suites.
Armstrong, who worked in the Indianapolis comptroller and public works departments before signing on with Huber, Hunt & Nichols, Inc., said most of the 24,000 square feet of new office space already has been leased.
Groups who will have their offices in the expansion area include the Indiana Sports Corp., The Athletics Congress, the 500 Festival, U.S. Gymnastics and a religious convention group.