WORCESTER - The Worcester Redevelopment Authority Friday unanimously approved the awarding of the owner's project manager contract for the city's minor league ballpark project to Skanska USA Building Inc.

The WRA board also voted to authorize the expenditure of up to $545,650 for the company's initial phase of services, which will cover through the design development phase of the project.

Skanska USA Building is one of the largest construction and development companies in the country.

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It provided construction services for Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, home of the New England Patriots, and MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, home of the NFL's New York Giants and New York Jet, among the many stadium/arena projects it has been involved with in the past.

Skanska USA was among eight firms that bid on the owner's project manager contract. City officials whittled the field down to four and interviewed each of them, with Skanska eventually coming out on top.

"All of the proposals were very good," said Michael E. Traynor, the city's chief development officer and WRA executive director. "Everyone concurred, though, that the proposal from Skanska USA, teaming with IFG (International Facilities Group), was the strongest proposal. We have met with them and negotiated a contract."

Paul J. Moosey, commissioner of public works and parks and who was among those who interviewed the four firms, agreed that Skanska USA was the "best fit for this particular project."

The 10,000-seat ballpark, to be known as Polar Park, will be built in the Kelley Square area as part of an overall $240 million redevelopment of that part of the city. It will be built and owned by the city/WRA and will be the new home of the Boston Red Sox' top minor league team starting in the 2021 season.

Mr. Traynor said Skanska USA will be the project manager for the city/WRA, while the team (Pawtucket Red Sox) will also have a project manager since it will be leasing the ballpark from the city.

"We're going to be working in concert with the team's project manager and the WRA's project manager," Mr. Traynor said. "As we go through the first phase (design development) of the project we wil find out how we can blend these two entities together and determine what the division of labor will be. We feel we will be able to gauge that better as we go through design development. Obviously, the big heavy lift of work will come in the construction phase."

Once the project enters the construction phase and its scope of services for that phase is determined, the contract with Skanska USA will be amended to include more funding for it.

Meanwhile, the city's Designer Selection Board may be making recommendations for the hiring of a design team for the ballpark project as early as next week.

The board on Wednesday and Thursday interviewed seven propsective architects for the project.

Christopher J. Gagliastro, chairman of the Designer Selection Board and the city's purchasing director, said members wanted more time to digest all the information they received during the interviews.

"There was a lot of information to consider from the past couple of days, so taking some time to further digest it made sense to the group," Mr. Gagliastro said Friday. "We are also going to do some more homework on the firms and their qualifications over the next week."

No meeting date has been set yet for next week.

Mr. Traynor said the Designer Selection Board will narrow the field to three finalists. He said the city will enter into negotiations with the top-ranked firm and if a deal cannot be agreed on then negotiations will begin with the second-ranked firm.

Once an architect is selected and a contract is negotiated, the WRA board will be asked to authorize the hiring, similar to what was done with the owner's project manager.

Once the project manager and design team are both on board, they will collaborate on the hiring of a construction manager for the project. Mr. Moosey said it is anticipated that a construction manager will be hired by the end of this year.

Those three postions will make up what is known as the Ballpark Delivery Team. Construction of the ballpark is scheduled to begin in July 2019 and be completed by March 2021.

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