To be Called “Ironworkers: Diné Workers Helping to Build Atlanta Falcons’ New Stadium

Ironworker Ambrose Steah, who has been in the business since he was 18, places bolts onto the infield cross beams recently in Atlanta, while working on the new home the Atlanta Falcons, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Published April 16, 2017

WINDOW ROCK – High in the sky and walking on six-inch steel beams is where ironworker Ambrose Steah, 33, keeps things in perspective: A better life for his kids. The single father of two has been “dancing with death,” as he put it, since he was 18 years old.

He’s on the road nine months out of the year, sometimes longer. But that doesn’t bother him despite long stints of doing everything alone.

Even working long hours doesn’t seem to bother him, said the 2001 Blue Ridge (Lakeside, Arizona) Yellowjacket graduate.

It’s this hard work ethic that got him to Atlanta nine months ago to “be part of history” and help complete the future home of the Atlanta Falcons – the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Like his father who etched his mark in history 19 years ago by helping to build the former Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, Steah wants to do the same thing.

Cranes with booms extending hundreds of feet into the air are dwarfed by the size of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The new stadium is the future home of the Atlanta Falcons.

And just as his father, Johnson Steah, took him on a tour of the Arizona Diamondbacks new home (now called Chase Field) after it was completed in 1998, he intends to fulfill his dream of one day taking his kids on a similar tour.

“My dad worked on Bank One stadium in Phoenix. He’s the one who got me into cranes,” Steah said. “Like my father did for me, I want to tell them I was part of this build.”

But to make what he calls “the impossible, possible,” Steah has no delusions and knows that hard work will make his vision come true.

“I’m here, seven days a week, at 6 a.m., on the jobsite ready to work for 12 or more hours straight,” Steah said. “I carry my 40 to 60 pounds of tools and start climbing those stairs because my worksite is about 450 feet off the ground.”

Cranes with booms extending hundreds of feet into the air are dwarfed by the size of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The new stadium is the future home of the Atlanta Falcons.

Working so high, Steah says he understands the risks tied to his profession.

“Ironworkers, we are not masters of the sky,” he said. “We are up there before the sun rises, doing what needs to be done. I understand that at any moment I could slip – it could be my last slip.”

Dangling hundreds of feet in the sky, though dangerous, is not the first thing that enters your mind, Steah said. To get him through a tough day, he said he thinks of his two children, Savannah, 16, and Skyler, 15.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Print Friendly