The Schwing S 58 SX set up inside the arena to reach the upper deck pours.

Long booms contributed to the efficiency of concrete pumping at Little Caesars Arena, scheduled to open in September 2017.

Tight situations called for maneuverable booms, like the five-section S 43 SX with 270-degree tip section.

Little Caesars Arena: Pumping, Pumping!

Little Caesars Arena is a multi-purpose venue under construction in midtown Detroit, underway since April 24, 2015, following a formal groundbreaking ceremony on September 25, 2014. Cross Concrete Pumping, Melvindale, Michigan, has been on the job since August 2015, working for Tooles Contracting Group/CCC Joint Venture of Detroit, self-performing all of the concrete, place and finish work. The $732.6 million arena, scheduled to open in September 2017, will be the home of the Detroit Redwings of the National Hockey League and the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association.

Since the first yards of concrete were placed nearly two years ago, concrete pumping has been continuous—a model of efficiency and positive customer/pumper relations.

More Pours

“Our main contract was for the foundations, main level slab on grade, and all of the decks, including club level, upper concourses and the roof,” explains Cesar Gonzalez, director of concrete for Tooles. Foundations included a 40-foot perimeter wall and three cores that are 220 feet in height. Subsequent contracts have included flatwork for the surrounding buildings that are still under construction.

“Toole’s has said many times of the project, ‘This is the last pour,’” says Steve Cieszlak, concrete pumping manager. “But they keep getting more work and we keep sending pumps to the site.” The arena is about 20 minutes from the pumper’s yard.

Big Pours

Massive foundation pours exceeding 1,600 yards each were accomplished using Schwing S 58 SX truck-mounted pumps with placing booms. Because the event level is 40 feet below grade, many of the pours took advantage of the flexibility of the 175-foot Overhead Roll and Fold booms, which position all the articulation on the working side of the boom. “These mass pours could be pumped at high volume, which was easily handled with the 213 yard-per-hour capabilities of these pumps,” states Cieszlak.

As concrete work progressed to the three 220-foot tall elevator cores, more than 300 feet of pipeline system was needed to reach the formwork. Cross used their Schwing BPL 4000 truck pump with 2023H-6 pumpkit to apply up to 1,233 psi on the concrete and meet production goals.

The arena houses two full size ice rinks. “The practice rink was poured in August 2016 and the NHL rink was pumped in March,” Gonzalez noted, “Both were finished to a high FF/FL number.” The pumper positioned the S 46 SX inside the arena and utilized the EASy Flex one-sided outrigger set-up, standard on the machine, to pump out the rink in one continuous pour. “The Super X outriggers saved space, and by extending only the rink side outriggers, the operator was able to cover the rink,” according to Cieszlak. With all of the allowable short rig scenarios available through the EASy Flex system integrated into Schwing’s Vector Controls, even during the critical set up phase, the system monitored and ensured the safety of the pump and operators.

Avoiding Delays

Coordinating the pumper’s fleet of 20 concrete pumps with the needs of the high-visibility job is essential. “The job has a $10 million dollar liquid damages for delay clause in the contract,” explains Gonzalez, “because even a one-day delay opening a venue like this can affect so many other contractors.”

The pumpers’s policy of providing 24/7 customer service fits the needs of the project. “Our dispatcher, Lisa Vandercook, is integral to the arena project,” explains Cieszlak. “She will communicate with the project staff to make sure we have the right pump when they need it, while also taking care of our other customers. For example, if the job required the maneuverability of a five-section boom, Lisa would send out our S 43 SX with 270-degree tip section.”

Cieszlak and the pumper’s branch manager, Kenny Spader, make daily trips to the arena to make sure the customer has the right pump for the job. “If the call comes in at 5:00 a.m. that they are two flex hoses short to cover a pour, we will have them there in minutes,” states Cieszlak. Gonzalez sums up the concrete pumping on the project in one word, “Excellent.”

Everything They’ve Got

Cross has used every boom pump in their fleet on the project from 31- to 58-meter-plus line pumps. “Our S 31 XT with the telescoping five-section boom has been a real asset,” says Cieszlak, “With its low unfolding height and 270 degrees of articulation at each of the last two sections, it is the perfect boom to snake into tight areas like stairway pours.”

More than 53,000 cubic yards of concrete have been pumped to date on the project, and there have been 283 orders for pumps. “We are on schedule, despite plenty of changes in pour plans over the course of the last two years,” notes Gonzalez. Cieszlak describes the working relationship with Tooles as “mutual respect with a common goal to get it done right and on time.”

A Venue in Its Own Right

The arena will feature a unique, glass-roofed concourse connecting it to surrounding offices and shops. It will anchor a new $1.2 billion 650,000-square-foot sports and entertainment district in and around downtown Detroit that will include mixed-use neighborhoods with new residential and retail outlets located around the Cass Corridor, Ford Field and Comerica Park. With the announcement that the Pistons would also move to the arena, it will mark the first time that the Pistons have played regularly in Detroit since 1978.

Little Caesars Arena was designed by HOK, St. Louis, and features a unique “deconstructed” layout. Buildings housing retail outlets, the arena’s box office, and the offices of the Red Wings will be built outside the arena, but a glass roof will be erected between the buildings and the arena itself. The roof will form an indoor “street” that will serve as the arena’s concourse. The concourse will remain open year-round, even if an event is not occurring inside the arena, allowing it to also be used as a venue of its own. There will also be an outdoor plaza with a large video display.



Owner/Developer: Olympia Development, Detroit, Michigan
Architect: HOK, St. Louis, Missouri
General Contractor: Tooles Contracting Group/CCC Joint Venture, Detroit
Pumping Contractor: Cross Concrete Pumping, Melvindale, Michigan
Pumping Equipment: Schwing 31 XT, Schwing 32 X, Schwing S 43 SX, Schwing S 46 SX, Schwing S 58 SX truck-mounted concrete pumps with placing booms and Schwing BPL 4000 truck-mounted line pump