Work on Globe Life Field — the Texas Rangers’ brand-new retractable-roof baseball ballpark in Arlington, Texas — was nearing completion when BEAM Concrete Construction, the decorative concrete subcontractor, hit a snag, color-matching concrete. Try as it might, the company couldn’t produce integrally colored concrete that would match the expanse placed about a year earlier for the adjacent Texas Live! dining and entertainment venue.
Even though BEAM was getting its locally sourced materials from the same ready-mix supplier it had been dealing with since day one, as well as using the same number of bags of pigment per batch, the color was off. An exact match was crucial as the unfished ballpark section butted up against the Texas Live! colored concrete sidewalks and patios.
According to Jason Hardcastle, general manager of the decorative concrete division of BEAM Concrete, he and his crew did at least four sets of mockups with a minimum of four 5-by-5-foot squares to try to find a fix. The mockups featured different mix designs, different aggregate and various adjustments on sand and color.
“Nothing worked,” Hardcastle says.
He says the architects were insistent about sticking to the specified color that had been used to color Texas Live!’s sidewalks and adjoining areas. To do this, adjustments had to be made.
A meeting was set with him, the GC, members of the ownership group and a representative of the major manufacturer who had supplied the color for the decorative concrete part of the ballpark. “The manufacturer’s rep was a no-show,” Hardcastle says.
“That’s when Brian (Farnsworth) stepped in and saved the day.”
Cement Colors pinch hits
It wasn’t by sheer luck that Brian Farnsworth, owner of Cement Colors in Fort Worth, was on the job site. He was already involved in the project as his company was supplying ChemSystems Surface Etch, a product that slows the hardening of cement to produce a uniform exposed aggregate surface.
Cement Colors, family owned and operated since 2007, is a leading decorative concrete products supplier in northern Texas. Among its many attributes, the company has on-site manufacturing and offers color matching and technical service to its customers.
“Because of our relationship and the trust we’ve developed over the years, I convinced the (ballpark) owners and others to give Brian’s company a chance to match the color we needed. And that’s the direction we went,” Hardcastle says.
And Farnsworth didn’t disappoint. “We had to adjust the pigments because things had changed in a year,” he says. “The raw materials had changed. Maybe they were coming from a different sand pit or even a different area of the same sand pit. Maybe the cement was a different shade of gray. There were a lot of variables to consider.”
He took samples of the current raw materials of cement, sand and aggregate into his lab. And, using Cement Colors pigments, “We turned around a match in less than 24 hours,” Farnsworth says. “We’re calling it Ranger Buff.”
Dealing with temperature diversity
BEAM Concrete Construction began its portion of work for Globe Life Field in early December and wrapped up everything in April. It was BEAM’s job to install concrete with decorative touches on sidewalks, short walls and stairs, among other things. The company had also done the decorative concrete for Texas Live! next door.
Hardcastle says one of the challenges was adjusting to the difference in temperature from the beginning of the job to the end. “When we first began, temperatures didn’t get out of the 30s some days and it was also well below freezing at night,” Hardcastle says. “But we had to pour anyways because of our tight schedule.” And during this cold period, the crew had to use blankets to protect the finish.
By the end, temperatures were usually in the mid-80s during the day, he says.
The difference in temperature also greatly affects how the surface etch product reacts. “When you surface etch concrete, it’s all about the timing to properly set the sand finish. If it goes on too late, the etch isn’t deep enough. Too early and you get a heavier etch. We had to read the concrete pour by pour and make adjustments (depending on the temperature).”
Another challenging part of the job involved three large sets of steps that led up to the entry plaza.
“This area (the plaza) was the largest expanse of concrete that we placed,” Hardcastle says. His crew placed, colored and also etched each set of stairs in one pour in a day’s time. To match the plaza treatment, both risers and treads were etched with the ChemSystems product.
BEAM Concrete Construction, a turnkey concrete company headquartered in Melissa, Texas, that’s been in business for 16 years, met the original deadline for Globe Life Park. With opening day quickly approaching, decorative concrete general superintendent David Dossey and decorative placement superintendent Miguel Cervantes, along with project manager Anthony Nelson, and their team, worked with the general contractor to make sure the project was delivered on time. Despite the coronavirus, they finished the project in April, two weeks before the scheduled opening.
Hardcastle credits BEAM’s owner, Jack Clapp, and BEAM’s dependable decorative division for completing the job on time and up to expectations. He also salutes an excellent working relationship with his supplier.
“Our relationship with Cement Colors is solid,” Hardcastle says. “We have always leaned on Brian (Farnsworth) for color and technical advice. His knowledge of the industry and different products is amazing. He and his team are my go-to guys for any kind of knowledge or training we may need.”