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The demolition, excavation, groundbreaking, construction and opening of a new multipurpose arena in downtown Mason City, set to open in December, has been nearly a year-long process. 

When Mayor Bill Schickel led the groundbreaking event in February, he said that he wanted Mason City residents to come in from the cold and see what it looks like and "compare it 10 months from now when it's finished."

Since then, a lot has changed. 

A new roof is now on the building. The facades are wholly different from when it was a JCPenney. Seating is in place, as are suites. And the scoreboard is up.

It looks like an arena.

But a lot when into getting to that point. Not just time but money as well. 

The change orders

In addition to the over $14.9 million for the four distinct bid packages needed to make the arena materialize, there have been six bundles of work change orders over the past nine months that have totaled more than $1 million. 

From April through July, there was one work change order a month as well as change orders in October and November. The largest totaled about $201,290 and addressed additional work for electrical, carbon monoxide detection, drywall and food service equipment. The smallest change order was about $50,000 to elevate a condenser, which is a necessary part of the refrigeration process, above the arena. 

Work change orders

Work changes Order 1 Order 2 Order 3 Order 4 Order 5 Order 6
Cost $152,530 $56,400 $127,100; $160,120 $57,650 $71,900; $201,290 $50,520; $100,805; $51,601
Work done Floor depth modifications Structural revisions, plumbing revisions, doors and frames and electrical, ceiling tile removal. sewer work; footing and foundation mods condenser changes wall and stadia foundation revisions at the arena; electrical, carbon monoxide detection, drywall and food service equipment. condenser work; ice plant work; floor coverings and framings

That April work change order of $152,530 was approved to address rock elevation and design issues that impeded having a proper depth for the floor.

The May change order totaled $56,400 for: structural revisions, underground plumbing revisions, hollow metal doors and frames and underground electrical and Younkers ceiling tile removal.

Unexpected sanitary sewer and storm sewer utility work, related to a mislabeled pipe, necessitated a $127,100 work change in June. In that month, $160,120 was also needed for modifications on the footings and foundations.

July's change order was for $57,650 to ensure that ice equipment and the building functioned properly, particularly the condenser stand.

October had two related orders filed in the same request to city council. One, for $71,900, addressed wall and stadia foundation revisions at the arena. The other was the work for $201,290. 

Finally, in November, a bundle of three orders, totaling more than $200,000 was approved by the city council. 

Within budget

According to one study of over 12,000 projects, conducted by the Independent Project Analysis (IPA) group, on average, over 35 percent of all construction projects will have a major change order at some point during the process. So work change orders aren't wholly uncommon.

The issue with work change orders, particularly multiple change orders, is that they can affect project schedule, project budget and what Intergraph, who dove into the IPA study, calls "labor inefficiencies." 

With the Mason City multipurpose arena work, each particular case was listed, in city council agendas, as being budgeted and within the contingency plan. 

Still those totals are above estimates from 2017 which were for $12.55 million.  

Funding is through through private grants, TIF money, Iowa Reinvestment Act funds and a local option sales tax, and a $500,000 pledge from Cerro Gordo County. At this time, Mason City Youth Hockey is also in its capital fundraising campaign which will help pay for various parts of the arena.

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Reach Reporter Jared McNett at 641-421-0527. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @TwoHeadedBoy98. 

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