Stadium renovation hits halfway point

All is well with the Lambeau Field renovation project. Thanks to mild winter weather and a workforce that has reached 1,000 this spring, more than 50 percent of the project has been completed.<p>

The Green Bay Packers are expected to move into their new digs on the east side of the stadium in July, according to project director Stuart Zadra of the Hammes Co. The football team will move into its new locker room and training facilities beginning July 15. The administration employees are expected to move beginning July 29.

Meanwhile the luxury boxes, some outdoor club seating and some general admission seats will be ready by the time the Packers host their first preseason game – Monday night, Aug. 26 against Cleveland.

"It's coming along very well," said Zadra, who gave local media a tour of the facility on Wednesday. "It's a very tight timeline that we're working under, but as you see, the changes from month to month are dramatic."

The project is so far ahead of schedule that work has begun on extending the upper concourse around the south end of the stadium. That was not expected to begin this early.

By the end of the 2002 season, the project is expected to be about 80 percent complete, according to Zadra. By the start of the 2003 season, the upper concourse, which features indoor and outdoor areas, will encircle the entire stadium.

Fans attending games this season will notice a dramatic change in the width of the concourses (almost triple the size of the concourses in the old stadium) as well as the towering skyboxes and additional general admission seating. There will be four main gates, but two primary gates are wider than they were in the past with more turnstiles and more ticket takers, which should allow for quicker entrance to each game.

Phase III of the project begins in late August and September. Crews will demolish the existing holed-out private boxes and the administration building after team is relocated. They also will begin to dismantle the scoreboard on the north end of the stadium, replacing it with two temporary scoreboards until a new scoreboard is erected in time for the 2003 opener.

"By the time we get to the end of the season, you'll see the new structure up out of the ground," Zadra said. "You'll see the framework for the indoor club seats. You'll really see what the building shell will look like. The balance of that time will be completing the interior fit-out of that area and then the Hall of Fame, and the balance of any build-outs in the atrium."

Thus far, Zadra says that there have been no major injuries. One worker suffered a broken wrist and one suffered a broken jaw, but "nothing beyond that," Zadra said.

"We've been very fortunate, very pleased with the safety record. ... The sub contractors for Turner (Construction) have to be commended for the work that they've done. We have full-time safety directors and assistant safety directors. Each sub-contractor has a safety crew and a safety plan. They have a program that they've worked out with OSHA in regard to a safety program. The benefits are paying off."

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