Work is well underway on the project to construct a new Ray Nitschke Field on the east side of the Don Hutson Center.
Currently, workers are constructing a new parking lot on what formerly was Nitschke Field. Once the new lot is complete, the current parking lot adjacent to the Hutson Center will be transformed into the new practice field, complete with permanent bleachers on the east side of the field. The new Nitschke Field will utilize the same natural grass-DD GrassMaster surface used on Clarke Hinkle Field and Lambeau Field.
"The project is progressing quite nicely," said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. "In all likelihood, the new Nitschke Field will be ready to serve as the team's regular-season practice field in 2009, and then be ready for training camp in 2010. The new facility will greatly enhance the fan experience at practice in terms of offering a more comfortable environment to watch the sessions, and also from a safety standpoint being away from Oneida Street."
The field will stretch the entire distance from Armed Forces Drive on the north end to Potts Avenue on the south end. Three buildings the Packers own on Potts Avenue will be razed as part of the project. The affected tenants are in the process of moving to new locations.
The team is working with the village to include future considerations for a pedestrian path connecting Lambeau Field and the Veterans Memorial Complex to the area south of Potts Avenue.
In other Packers project news,Murphy said plans for the expansion of the Lambeau Field Atrium have been put on hold. The plans call for a plaza that would wrap around the Atrium from the Oneida Nation Gate on the east side to the Miller Brewing Company Gate on the north end of the stadium. The plaza would allow for convenient fan movement between the gates, especially during times of heavy use at the Oneida Nation Gate. The project also would involve other components such as underground parking and additional space for football and business operations.
Murphy indicated the project eventually will proceed, but at a to-be-determined time in the future.
"For a combination of reasons, we felt it prudent to put the project on hold for the time being," Murphy said. "With the current uncertain economic climate, we thought it would be wise to take a conservative fiscal approach to a project of this scope and make sure we're spending our money wisely.
"Additionally, this is the first phase of multiple components of a long-term plan that includes the development of land purchased in recent years near the stadium. We want to look at all phases of the development and make sure each component appropriately complements the others. By taking more time to study all our options, we're confident we'll be doing that."
"The Atrium expansion project would improve operations, upgrade aesthetics and address fan safety and convenience," said Patrick Webb, executive director of the Green Bay-Brown County Professional Football Stadium District. "While the project remains in long-term plans for Lambeau Field, we support the team's decision to defer the project given the current state of the financial markets and overall economic conditions."