GREEN BAY—The expansion of Lambeau Field's south end zone is in the finishing stages.
Plenty of work remains between now and the project's conclusion in mid to late July, but with 6,662 yards of concrete and 5,500 tons of steel now in place – the first of which were laid 15 months ago – the finish line is definitely within sight.
"I'm excited for our fans," Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said. "You plan it for so long, and you see sketches and you go back and forth with different concepts and ideas, and to see it now, where it's almost in its final form, it is exciting."
Most of the seating areas are ready for their final three elements – the seats, railings and "traffic coating" of the concrete, which provides for the abrasive, non-slip surface to help keep walkways and stairways safe.
Various "inside" spaces – including club-seat areas on multiple levels, the two dozen new concession stands and the many bathrooms housing nearly 200 new toilets – still require some drywall, paint, and tile, plus electrical and plumbing work. But progress is visible literally daily, with at times more than 300 on-site workers putting the finishing touches on the most significant changes to Lambeau Field since its redevelopment in 2003.
The entire project will feature approximately 7,000 new seats, all theater-style chairs with backs, with many providing a stunning aerial view of the venerable stadium.
"The sightlines are great," Murphy said. "High end-zone seats are where coaches watch game film from.
"It's offering completely different seating options than we have available now. It really is going to give the stadium a lot of diversity in terms of seating options and fan experiences."
Roughly 5,400 of the 7,000 seats are considered general seating, with the other 1,600 in the premium category as club seats or terrace suites, as well as sponsor and partner areas. Most of those seats are outdoors but covered, including those in the Miller Lite End Zone, which is moving from the north end to the new south end. Roughly 1,000 bench seats will now occupy the previous Miller Lite End Zone on the north side.
The premium areas have dedicated space for their requisite amenities, while a new outdoor concourse, with numerous concession and souvenir stands and bathrooms, runs the full length of the largest block of general seating – 1,100 linear feet from one end to the other near the top of the expansion, just below the video board that was added prior to the 2012 season.
That concourse also includes multiple viewing platforms between the seating sections, a trend in stadium development in the NFL.
"You go around the league, and stadiums now have designed and built places where people can stand and watch the game," Murphy said. "People like to congregate, and we saw that last year with the North Loft. That was really popular."
From a ground-level entrance at the new Shopko gate, the new areas will be accessed via two escalators, three stairways and four elevators.
The size and scope of the project is noteworthy. The expansion adds 336,000 square feet to Lambeau's previous size of 1.7 million square feet. Sprinkled throughout the indoor club/suite and outdoor concourse areas will be 325 new flat-screen televisions, once all the electrical work is finalized. That electrical work has required 140 miles of wire.
Murphy said more season-ticket holders than expected chose to move from the bowl to the new south end zone, and he believes the theater-style seats with backs and the opportunity to consolidate previously scattered pairs of seats were the primary driving forces.
That migration to the south end zone opened up numerous seats in the stadium bowl for new season-ticket holders who have been on the waiting list for decades.
"It's really exciting to hear from our fans who have been on the waiting list for over 30 years," Murphy said. "They now have season tickets." Additional Coverage