The Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, has become a landmark in the Coachella Valley. With over 29 tennis courts including two stadiums on 88 acres of land, the massive “tennis paradise” is a site to see among the desert landscape. It is home to the BNP Paribas Open, one of professional tennis’ largest and most respected annual tournaments. As the largest WTA and ATP World Tour tennis tournament in the world, it has earned the unofficial title of the “fifth major.”
Bergelectric was the electrical contractor for the original state-of-the-art facility that opened in March 2000 and showcased a 16,100-seat stadium—the second-largest tennis stadium in the world at the time—and a full-service year-round tennis club. In 2009, the tournament announced Larry Ellison—co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation, a visionary, and a man passionate about professional tennis—would become a major shareholder of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and the BNP Paribas Open. His vision for the BNP Paribas Open tournament and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden facilities sparked many exciting changes to the venue and many opportunities for Bergelectric.
Under the eyes of new leadership, the BNP Paribas Open continued to set lofty goals and develop as a world-class international sporting event. One of the goals was to attract over 500,000 fans to the BNP Paribas Open. To help this come to fruition, Ellison and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden management added a second stadium to the tennis campus. Alongside general contractor Watkins Landmark Construction, Bergelectric completed the brand new 8,000- seat Stadium 2 just in time for 2014’s tournament.
After gathering record-breaking crowds for the BNP Paribas Open from 2014 to 2016, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden management called for another major expansion of the Indian Wells facilities—this time, they had a vision of enhancing the overall fan experience by renovating Stadium 1. The new Stadium 1 plans included the expansion of the Stadium Plaza, renovation of all the suites and hospitality spaces, and the addition of 21 new restaurants and concessions.
Bergelectric’s stellar performance at Indian Wells along with their local resources and knowledge of the facility gave the Indian Wells team the confidence to call on them for the Stadium 1 Renovation. When the 2016 BNP Paribas Open came to a conclusion, construction crews—including Bergelectric—began the massive expansion of the existing stadium. “Crews had to start work right after the tournament was over,” said Bergelectric Sr. Project Manager Randy Drinkward. “Like the Stadium 2 project from a few years back, we had to be completely finished with the expansion of Stadium 1 before the next tournament started—delaying the schedule was not an option,” Drinkward continued.
The demanding schedule for this project cannot be overstated. The stadium renovation required over 100,000 man hours from Bergelectric within a nine-month period. In order to get ahead of the condensed schedule, Bergelectric took advantage of their Southern California resources—bringing in approximately 120 electricians from San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. “We are fortunate to have such an experienced field crew in Southern California,” said Drinkward. “Having so many highly qualified electricians available from surrounding areas was crucial considering the demanding work hours that were required to keep this project on track,” he continued. Bergelectric crews put in long work days that included overtime and a work week that extended to the weekend. Bergelectric used their vast experience with similarly fast-paced and large-scale projects to assist general contractor Watkins Landmark Construction in developing the schedule. As changes were made, Bergelectric kept advancing the schedule to keep focus on the end goal.
Specialized crews were brought in to help focus on areas of need. For instance, Bergelectric utilized a specialized wiring crew to concentrate on the wiring of rooftop mechanical equipment. With focus on these specific installations for an approximate five-week span, the rooftop crew became a key factor in keeping the project on schedule. Similarly, Bergelectric utilized their Title 24 certifying crew to review the plans, making sure everything was compliant with the latest Title 24 code before installation took place—preventing any possible rework. Other specialty crews utilized by Bergelectric included High Voltage/Medium Voltage Cable Pulling, Earth Science, TopCon Total Station, Off-Site Prefabrication, and their BIM Department. These crews provided focus, ensured quality, and helped to keep the project on schedule.
Weather in the Coachella Valley brought many challenges to Bergelectric crews throughout the duration of the Stadium 1 Renovation. The summer brought temperatures up to 120º F (averaging 106º), making heat safety a top priority. Bergelectric implemented mandatory water breaks for the entire crew, and large signs were posted on Bergelectric’s job-site trailer that displayed the daily temperature range and the correlating water consumption recommended for each level. Bergelectric also posted information on how to spot the signs of heat-related illnesses and the proper actions to take if somebody on the job site experiences a heat-related illness. The high temperatures on site created a shift in Bergelectric’s daily construction schedule too. Work started earlier in the morning to lessen the amount of hours worked during the peak summertime heat.
The fast-paced nature of the project led to a massive amount of workers on site (over 500) at one time as all trades were maxing out their resources to meet the schedule. Because of the on-site congestion, it was vital for Bergelectric to implement an effective personnel and material management plan. Bergelectric’s management team assured labor and materials were mapped out by specific areas of activities, kept order, and stayed well ahead of the aggressive schedule. Material management carts (dubbed “Shark Cages”), for instance, were used for efficient material handling throughout the site. Material carts were stocked by Bergelectric vendors with materials for a specific area of work— eliminating the need for Bergelectric employees to navigate the congested job site for materials and expediting the installation process. The use of Bergelectric’s digital labor tracking system to track specific installations and allow management to assess overall production was also crucial during this process.
On a fast-paced project where the design is progressing on a daily basis, maintaining the budget can be a daunting task. As the price of the Stadium 1 Renovation continued to escalate, Bergelectric was able to offer the owners many value engineering ideas to help drive the overall cost down as much as possible. Value engineering ideas were crucial, and Bergelectric’s ideas in particular brought tremendous value to the project.
Stadium 1 is now 100,000-sf larger and features entirely new seating, a new lower bowl VIP box, and upgraded seating closer to center court. The grandstand “upper deck” seating has been eliminated and replaced with roughly 7,000 individual seats.
The Stadium Plaza—where fans can gather to watch videos of multiple tennis matches—now has an expanded “superwall” that can display up to five matches at one time. The existing open-air portion of the Concourse level was covered to allow the suites on the second level to be significantly expanded, and now includes private restrooms. All of the existing restrooms were upgraded, and restrooms were added to the upper bowl.
Additionally, a 200-person hospitality room, Front Box Club, satellite broadcast studio, fitness center, and club pro shop also made their debut for the 2017 BNP Paribas Open. Other renovations worth noting include a brand new media room, two-story office building for tournament management and staff, and additional commissaries to accommodate the new concessions.
Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant was a marquee addition to the stadium as well. The full-service, 100-seat restaurant overlooks the court, giving fans a great view of the tournament matches. Twenty additional permanent concessions and restaurants were also added, including BS Taqueria, Dave’s Doghouse, Sherman’s Deli, and Melissa’s Produce—just to name a few.
Despite the challenges, Bergelectric was able to come through for the Indian Wells Tennis Garden once again. The project showcased Bergelectric’s vast resources, innovative practices, and experience. “No other electrical contractor in the country can pull off a project like this—not within that time frame,” said Drinkward. “But Bergelectric did!”