Groundbreaker Profile

A global cohort of women built the Allegiant Stadium. McCarthy’s Bailey Ruff is one of them.

Groundbreaker Bailey Ruff oversaw the installation of the most anticipated playing field in recent football history. No pressure.

When McCarthy Building Companies’ Bailey Ruff showed up at the Allegiant Stadium mega-project in Las Vegas, it was the start of a three-year life chapter for the project manager. In those three years, Bailey would experience both the rigorous rewards of responsibility and an intense pride of workmanship alongside a skilled cohort of women from all over the world.

We sat down with Bailey to get her take on what it was like to work on a project of this magnitude, to find out how a regulation turf field can be rolled into and out of a stadium, and what the Allegiant project’s diverse workforce says about tomorrow’s construction jobsite.

“I think that it's great to have all of those women out on the project site to say, ‘Hey, I was an iron worker on the Allegiant Stadium project,’ or ‘I was a project manager working on the stadium.’ I hope all of those women inspire the younger generation to consider construction as a career path. Because honestly—it's such a rewarding feeling to walk out onto the field and see something you spent three years building.”

Bailey Ruff

Project Manager
Allegiant Stadium main entrance

What are your feelings about having been involved in this landmark construction project, the Allegiant Stadium?

I think the new stadium is probably the most iconic building I'll ever work on. I don't want to cut my career too short or assume there won't be anything cooler, but that stadium is cool. I worked with the structural steel.

Can you tell us something about how the steel was used in the structure?

The structure itself is dug down 40 feet into the ground. The first three stadium levels are concrete, and everything after that is all structural steel. That’s 28,000 tons of structural steel on the project. It's 56 million pounds—or approximately 9,300 elephants. The structural steel supports the roof and the cable net structure, which is fairly rare in the U.S., but they use this in soccer stadiums across Europe.

Were you involved in any element of the Allegiant Stadium build that you think would amaze both construction insiders and the uninitiated?

The most amazing piece of the job really was the field tray, which was my piece of the project. The field tray is essentially a train. It sits on 540 wheels, powered by 72 one-horsepower motors and rolls along 13 rails. It’s somewhere around 19 million pounds after you consider the weight of the soil, the steel, and the concrete. It has to move from the outside of the stadium—where the natural grass can grow in the sun—to the inside of the stadium on game days. I think that was one of my favorite parts of the project, and definitely one of the coolest features of Allegiant stadium.

What was top of mind for you when the project started? What was your main concern?

Before a single shovel was put in the ground, we were focused on the safety of the people who were going to come onto the jobsite and go home to their families every day. A stadium like this is a complicated build. With over 1,500 people walking through those gates on a daily basis, we were spending time out in the field talking to the crews about safety, making sure that they understood how important it was to us that they stayed safe throughout the project.

Allegiant Stadium field seen from a skybox

This mega-project was a Mortenson|McCarthy joint venture. How did that go?

Each component team had a mix of people, so there were people from Mortenson and from McCarthy working on the structural team, and there was a complete mix of people from Mortenson and McCarthy working on the interiors team—it was a seamless whole. We built relationships and a lot of us still stay in contact with each other. Once you got there, it wasn’t "I work for McCarthy, so I do this and I work for Mortenson, so I do this." It was, "We are Mortenson McCarthy, and we're going to build the Allegiant Stadium."

This project was directed by the state of Nevada to employ a diverse workforce. What did compliance look like?

We had a goal of 38% minority and women participation, measured as work hours onsite. And we nearly doubled that—we blew it out of the water at, I think, 68%. We were so intentional about that. Our Community Benefits Manager tracked the minority workforce with each and every subcontractor to make sure that everybody was meeting their goal. You didn't just have diversity on one team. You had diversity across the board.

What positive effect do you think that had on a project like this?

The Allegiant build had women who were laborers, women who were electricians, women who were fireproofers, women who were leading crews. Construction needs people who come from different backgrounds, different upbringings, different genders, and different ethnicities––to really create a collaborative environment where everybody's bringing in new ideas.

During women in construction week in 2019, we gathered the women from Allegiant Stadium, including our women trade partners, and those of us  who worked for Mortenson McCarthy. We all got together for a luncheon. There were women from different parts of the country, whether it was New York or Washington or Texas; we had people from Canada and people from Mexico, people from as far away as India and Italy. There were women from across the world, all coming together to build this football stadium. It was simply incredible.

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