Nitschke Field Reconstruction
Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin
Sportsfield Designer: DA Hogan & Associates, Inc.
Completed: Spring 2009
The Green Bay Packers had only one grass practice field, and the considerable wear sustained by season's end not only affected the appearance and playability of the field, it was becoming a safety issue as well. In July 2008, the Packers decided to renovate Nitschke Field from one synthetic field to two natural grass fields to use for practices.
The Packers historically held their training camps on Hinkle Field; since the field is bordered by a very busy street, there was concern about the safety of fans who sat on portable bleachers along the street. The decision was made to move all seating for the training camp season to the renovated Nitschke Field.
FIELDS started construction in September with the demolition of the existing synthetic turf field to make space for a new lighted parking lot. This lot replaced the 250-car parking lot that had to be moved to make way for the new field. Once the lot was completed in October, the old lot was pulverized and ground in place, and the material used to construct the subgrade for the new field.
The 700' x 240' field (about 170,000 square feet) featured a sand-based root zone, was sodded with special blends of bluegrass and stitched with GrassMaster to ensure great footing for the players. Since the Packers play in an outdoor stadium and the philosophy of the organization is that they should practice outdoors as well, it was decided that 60 yards of the new field should be heated to accommodate late-season practices. FIELDS, in conjunction with Tweet/Garot Mechanical, designed a state-of-the-art heating system complete with controls and monitoring that can be handled remotely. To accommodate the boilers used to heat the system, FIELDS built an addition onto the existing Hutson Center, the team's indoor practice facility. The addition also contained storage for the football operations staff.
During the renovation, the Packers and the Village of Ashwaubenon worked closely together to design and build the first leg of a proposed lighted pedestrian corridor. FIELDS construction the corridor of brick pavers that could also be used for parking, along with an 800-foot decorative brick wall that mirrored Lambeau Field. The corridor also featured bollard lights, replica historic iron gates and other retro elements reminiscent of the days when the Packers played at Old City Field. On the field side of the brick wall, FIELDS installed elevated bleachers designed to bring fans close to the action during training camp.
Other features of the new facility included a rubberized surface near the field for staging football operations. FIELDS installed Musco lights to fully illuminate the field for nighttime practices, and also designed a viewing platform so the Packers could host other events at the facility throughout the year.
The project was a design/build collaboration between the Packers' executive team, FIELDS, DA Hogan and other professional companies, along with a multitude of subcontractors and local labor.