By RICHARD RYMAN
Green Bay Press-Gazette
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Everything else is going the Green Bay Packers’ way this year, so why shouldn’t the weather?
An unseasonably dry and warm winter is allowing construction at Lambeau Field to forge ahead on adding 6,700 seats, new entrances and other improvements to the stadium.
“It’s a godsend to us. You don’t have the frost to deal with. We’re able to excavate in a normal manner,” said Royce Alsbach, vice president with Miron Construction Co., on Thursday during a media tour at the stadium.
“I don’t know if it’s helped speed us up, but it hasn’t slowed us down.”
Albasch said workers are more productive in this weather because they aren’t fighting the cold.
Work primarily is happening on the outer perimeter of the stadium at the north and south end zones, so it won’t cause disruption for playoff games, said Ted Eisenreich, Packers director of facility operations.
“We’ve been at this for a couple of games. We adjust in and out on game days,” he said.
The new seats, scheduled to be completed for the 2013 season, also won’t do much to reduce the season-ticket waiting list, which the Packers said Thursday has grown to 96,000. Blame a Super Bowl victory and a 15-1 season for the list growing from 87,000 this year. The Packers have not said how new seats will be sold.
Meanwhile, 60 construction workers are on site. About 1,600 workers are expected to be employed during the two-year project, though the peak will be 300 at one time.
Six new elevators near the north end zone will serve 3,000 club-seat ticket holders and suite ticket holders.
“I think it will really help (fan flow at) the Associated Bank, Miller and possibly the Oneida gates,” Eisenreich said.
The elevator will have access to the third floor for physically impaired fans, to the fourth and sixth floors for club seats, and to the new viewing deck for club-seat ticket holders on top of the stadium. The elevators are scheduled to be available at the beginning of next season.
At the south end zone, four elevators and two escalators will provide access to the four decks of new seats, at third-floor level and above. That project, including the seats, is scheduled for completion for the 2013 season.
Workers are digging foundations for the elevators and escalators. Eisenreich said that by next season fans will see the skeleton for the new decks, which will be above existing south end-zone seating. He said the new structure will not affect existing seating.
“The nice thing about it, the majority is outside of the (existing) building,” he said.
Steel supports above the sixth floor will be strengthened after the season.
“All the steel in the existing building is to support what is here now,” he said.
All told, 5,000 tons of steel will be used in new construction, Alsbach said.
Part of that is for new Mitsubishi Diamond Vision video scoreboards above each end zone. The structures will be about the same dimensions as now, but the viewing area will increase from 25-feet-by-46-feet, to 48-feet-by-106-feet.
The scoreboards are scheduled to be available for next season.
Miron Construction of Neenah is construction manager. Hammes Co. Sports Development of Madison is project manager and Elkus Manfredi is the design architect.
Eighteen subcontractors currently are under contract, all from Wisconsin and 11 from Brown County.
The Packers estimate the economic impact of construction will be $70 million in wages over two years. The addition of 6,700 seats will be worth about $11 million annually, or the equivalent of an extra game per year, based on the most recent economic-impact study.
The cost of the project is estimated at $143 million. The Packers will pay for it with traditional loans, money raised through a stock sale, a possible NFL loan, and $11 million from the Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District’s capital improvement fund.
Money for that fund comes from user fees, also called seat licenses, paid by season-ticket buyers. No tax money will be used on the project.
Packers spokesman Aaron Popkey said Thursday that the team has sold more than 250,000 shares of stock at $250 each. The Packers recently offered an additional 30,000 share for sale. The sale of 280,000 shares would result in $70 million in gross revenue.
Information from: Green Bay Press-Gazette, http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com