6-Inch Error in Laying Concrete Puts Alltel Arena Project Behind Schedule

by David Smith  on Monday, Mar. 31, 2014 12:00 am  

Senior project manager Art Hunkele: “We’re going to look back and recall that there was a problem, but we solved it.”

A version of this article originally appeared in Arkansas Business on Aug. 3, 1998. It is being republished as part of Arkansas Business' 30th anniversary issue. You can access the digital edition for free here.

Construction on Alltel Arena is more than a month behind schedule because of an error in geometric calculations by the concrete contractor, the senior project manager for the $53 million construction job says.

Art Hunkele, senior project manager for the management team of Vratsinas Construction Co. of Little Rock and Turner Construction Co. of New York and Dallas, candidly admitted the error in an interview on the North Little Rock job site last week. But he’s confident the job still will be finished by its Aug. 11, 1999, deadline.

“Our commitment remains to the [arena] board to finish the job for opening in the fall of 1999,” says Hunkele (pronounced Hunk-lee).

Other construction sources in the state are not so sure it can be done easily, however.

“I don’t see how [the University of Arkansas at Little Rock] can play there in November [1999],” one source says. UALR and Oklahoma State University are scheduled for the first college basketball game in the arena. Even before that, the Arkansas Razorblades professional hockey team is scheduled to begin play in October 1999.

Some construction industry sources indicated a strong likelihood of lawsuits concerning the botched concrete job and other problems.

“You bet your sweet bippy there’ll be some lawsuits filed,” one construction source says.

“Before that thing is finished, there’s going to be lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit,” another says. “You just mark my words. In six to eight to 10 months, it’s going to be all over the papers how bad that project has turned out. It’s a shame.”

Charles Foster of Taggart Foster Currence Gray Architects Inc. in North Little Rock, part of the arena design team, downplayed the talk of lawsuits.

“In the construction business there is a pending lawsuit around every corner,” Foster says.

According to Hunkele, this is how the concrete error occurred:



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