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Sarasota Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009 8 years ago

Losing bidder protests Orioles' stadium contract

by: Robin Roy City Editor

The design and construction company that built Camden Yards, the Baltimore Orioles’ stadium, was the only firm to receive a perfect score in its bid to build the $25 million Orioles’ spring-training stadium in Sarasota.

But that bid was denied, because the county said the Michigan-based company, Barton Malow, did not have a full partner who was locally based.

The company plans to file a protest over the rejection of its proposal.

“The county didn’t follow its procedure,” said Len Moser, vice president of Barton Malow’s national sports group. “We don’t believe (the ruling) is in the best interest of the county.”

Moser said because of his firm’s relationship with the Orioles, the team told the county that it preferred Barton Malow to build the spring-training stadium, but the county is responsible for choosing the construction company.

The county asked the Orioles if it had a second choice, and the team said it did not.

Although the Orioles preferred Barton Malow, the team really has no recourse. Dave Bullock, deputy county administrator, said although the Orioles were a participant in the process, it has no veto power over the contractor selection.

Jack Cox, president of Halfacre Construction Co., which was awarded the contract, said the Orioles and the county asked the bidders to team with local companies in a joint venture on the project.

“Barton Malow didn’t do that,” said Cox.

A five-member panel of county employees scored each bidder on its past experience and its approach to this project. The companies could earn 90 points from each panel member.

Barton Malow received a score of 90 from each of the five members. The team that was ultimately awarded the project, a joint venture between Miami-based Turner Construction Co. and Sarasota-based Halfacre Construction Co., was the only other bidder to receive a 90, and it only received one.

Barton Malow finished with an average score of 90. Turner and Halfacre had an average of 80, but the county’s local-preference ordinance adds 10 points to that average, which put Barton Malow in a tie with Turner and Halfacre.

The county adopted the local-preference ordinance in February. It’s designed to support local companies, which are defined as firms based in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties.

With two bidders receiving a tie score in this case, the county turned to its tiebreaker, which again gives preference to the local company.

“We believe we followed procedure,” said Rebekka Cline, county procurement specialist.

Moser said his company should have been given the local preference points as well, because it partnered with Mathews Construction, which is headquartered in Tampa and has a full-time office in Charlotte County.

But Cline said Mathews was a subcontractor on the project, and subcontractors don’t count toward local preference.

Moser contends that Mathews is not a subcontractor and that will be the basis of his company’s protest.

Cline will review the county’s bidding process for the stadium project, and if she finds that the county acted fairly, Barton Malow can appeal to County Administrator Jim Ley. If he does not overrule the decision, then a last appeal can be made to the County Commission. That process can take weeks.

Moser said he’s prepared to take it that far, if necessary.

“We were the only company to receive perfect scores across the board,” said Moser. “That’s pretty overwhelming.”

• Pays a local business tax to Sarasota County or the county in which the company is located.
• Maintains a permanent physical business address in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte or DeSoto counties.
• Has at least one full-time employee in that office.
• At least half of the employees in that office must reside within the four-county area.
• If the local office is not the company’s headquarters, at least 10% of the company’s entire full-time staff. must be based in the local office or at least has one corporate officer, managing partner or principal owner residing in the four-county area.

The first number is the company's score before local preference points. Local preference points are in parentheses.

1.Turner Construction Co.and Halfacre Construction Co.: 80 (10)
1. Barton Malow Co.: 90 (0)
2. Hunt Construction Group; W.G. Mills Inc.: 74 (10)
3. Kraft Construction Co.: 62 (10)
3. NDC Construction Co. and Balfour Beatty Construction: 62 (10)
4. Willis A. Smith and Case Construction: 52 (10)
5. Hennessy Construction Services Corp.: 50 (0)
5. Tandem Construction, The Yates Companies Inc.: 40 (10)

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