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Packers: No public taxes for Lambeau expansion

Fans arrive early at Lambeau Field before a game in late December in 2009. The Packers are looking to expand Lambeau Field. Construction could start in February. (AP File Photo/Mike Roemer)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers plan to finance the expansion of the south end-zone area at Lambeau Field on their own and construction could start next February, according to a team official.

Jason Wied, the team’s general counsel and vice president of administration, tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that consultants believe the franchise can add as many as 7,500 seats in the south end-zone area, which was left open when the team finished its $295 million Lambeau Field makeover in 2003.

He said they haven’t finalized all the financing but there will be no public tax financing. A cost estimate has not been released.

“We would love to get it started next February. I would expect it would take a couple of seasons to do it,” Wied said. “We obviously want to play through construction. That makes it a little harder to accelerate it.”

The Packers financed the last stadium makeover through a combination of a 0.5 percent Brown County sales tax, a user fee on seat-holders, a National Football League loan and a stock sale.

While the Packers have not arrived at a financing plan, imposition of a user fee would seem likely because other season-seat holders paid the user fee during the last construction project. A stock sale, last held in 1997-’98, would be problematic because it would have to overcome regulatory hurdles as well as approval from NFL owners.

“There are multiple options for financing,” Wied said.

Green ticket holders paid $1,400 per seat the last time around; Gold seat holders paid $600 per seat.

Season-ticket holders and those on the waiting list received surveys recently asking for input on the best seating configurations. The survey also asks fans to tell them what they might be willing to pay.

Wied said one idea being discussed internally is giving existing seat holders the option of moving to the new seating in the south end-zone area and giving incoming seat holders the opportunity to purchase seats in the current bowl.

“This would be an opportunity to potentially jockey some people around in the stadium if that’s what they want,” Wied said. “People have been buying seats for a long time. It seems right they would get the first option to get a shot at the new section.”

The survey includes indoor and outdoor seating concepts that the team says “would be unlike any other concepts currently being offered at other NFL facilities.”

Capacity at Lambeau Field is more than 73,000.

The proposed expansion would include a new facade and entry gate at the south side of the stadium.

Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

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