Contractor for Gainbridge Fieldhouse renovation sounds alarm on worker shortage

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Construction companies are sounding the alarm: They need workers.

This is happening as high profile jobs are in progress and more are expected down the road.

Bloomington-headquartered Weddle Brothers Construction, the company building a plaza and doing renovations at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, made a plea Tuesday, noting that its work is on schedule at the home of the Indiana Pacers and the Indiana Fever despite the worker shortage.

“We’re getting to critical mass on worker shortage and we can really use more people interested in this industry,” said Lee Carmichael, president and CEO of Weddle Brothers Construction.

“We adapt. Our crews are working longer hours with fewer people. We find different ways to do things, but the owners have their schedules. Our clients have their schedules. We’re going to do what it takes to meet those schedules,” Carmicheal said.

The Associated General Contractors of America says many people are retiring and fewer younger workers are applying for the high-paying jobs in construction.

“It’s great place to get education paid for, getting paid, and having benefits at the same time,” Carmichael said.

According to the Associated General Contractors of America, the Indianapolis metro area from October 2020 to October 2021 added 4,700 construction jobs, an 8% increase. However, according to a survey the association released in early September, 90% of construction firms report having a hard time finding qualified workers.

Ken Simonson, chief economic for Associated General Contractors of America, said, “Workforce shortages have the potential to undermine broader economic growth in places like Indianapolis by, among other impacts, slowing construction schedules and inflating the costs of key development projects.”

Update on Gainbridge Fieldhouse construction

Phase 2 of construction at Gainbridge Fieldhouse is expected to end by January. All construction is expected to end by fall 2022. The $360 million project began in 2020.

Danny Lopez, vice president for external affairs and corporate communications at Pacers Sports & Entertainment, said Tuesday, “It’s just an incredible project. It’s a ton of work that’s being done and has been done. Essentially, we started at bottom at the event level, court level and have worked our way up the building and then to the outside of the building.”

“I think everybody in Indiana can recognize the fieldhouse shape, can see it against the skyline. It’s just an iconic building,” Lopez said.

Carmichael said the plaza will have an outdoor basketball court that can be converted into an ice rink during the winter for the community to use.