GREEN BAY, Wis. — A fan asks on “Is there a better place for a football game than the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field?” The answer is: well, yes and no — depending on what you go to a football game for.

GREEN BAY, Wis. — A fan asks on “Is there a better place for a football game than the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field?”

The answer is: well, yes and no — depending on what you go to a football game for.

If it’s history and tradition, you’re all set at this famous home of the Green Bay Packers.

But at 44 years old, the stadium was looking more than a tad tired. In an era of flashy new sports stadia built with fan-friendly plushness, Lambeau Field was, frankly, a dinosaur.

Consider the famous “Ice Bowl” in 1967 which many fans still vividly recall: game time temperature was an arctic-like -13∞F with a -46∞ wind chill. Those that survived it saw the home team defeat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 to win the NFL Championship.

A $295 million renovation is underway which will add 8,000 seats, 4,000 of which will be sold to the general public for each game. Of that, $67.7 million is tagged for mechanical, electrical and plumbing, or $22 million for hvac and plumbing. Adding more restrooms and concession stands is a high priority, along with administrative offices, locker rooms, luxury boxes and a year-round Titletown “entertainment venue” to attract fans long after the football season is over.

The cold will remain, although the playing field itself is heated — no dome for this hardy bunch. Other spartan features will also remain — like the lack of seat backs for the bleachers. For all its drawbacks, Sports Illustrated named Lambeau Field as the 8th best sports venue in the world (and the only NFL stadium to make the list), calling it an “ageless cathedral.” The Packers have a huge home-field advantage when playing there. Since 1992, the Packers are 52-9 at Lambeau Field, and won 25 games in a row there from 1995-98.

There was never really any serious thought to tearing down the old stadium and building a new one. Instead, football games are being played right alongside the renovation work, which will wind down in time for the 2003 football season.

John Soffa (left) and Jeremy Voldsness position ductwork for connection. (Tweed-Garrot photo).

In with the old

The project will consist of approximately 45 miles of pipe, 2,600 new plumbing fixtures, 2,000 tons of air conditioning and 750,000 pounds of ductwork. The construction manager is the Hammes Co., Brookfield, Wis.

The sheer size of the project called for a joint venture operating agreement between two already sizeable local contractors: Tweet-Garot Mechanical Inc. of Green Bay, and August Winter & Sons Inc. of Appleton. The construction manager, Turner Construction out of Chicago, also hedged on putting all its eggs in one basket in selecting a subcontractor.

Tim Howald, a 25-year veteran of Tweet-Garot and Packers fan, said “When we first heard about the project, we knew we wanted to be a part of it.” But the very nature of the agreement was unusual — teaming up with a competitor — and at first he had to ask: how will it benefit us? Tweet-Garot, which was founded in 1897, was already well known to the Packers organization, having filled the majority of its building mechanical needs over the past 25 years. As such, “We felt we should have the inside track.”

And yet, looking back, Howald said the move was a smart one. “They’re great people to work with,” he said of August Winter & Sons. While competitors, there was a level of trust between the two companies that otherwise would have made the joint venture impossible.

Gary Martin, a 31-year veteran of August Winter & Sons, is also a Packers season ticket holder and diehard fan: “They’re maybe a wide receiver away from winning the Super Bowl,” he says. Everyone at the company is happy to be working on such a high profile project, he added, although the varying elevations of the luxury suites and the sheer scale of the job site keeps things interesting. Many of the workers get around the site on John Deere ATVs.

Winter & Sons began in 1929 and has around 200 workers, most members of Sheet Metal Workers International Local #18. The company also performs plumbing and pipefitting work, and recently completed work on another high-profile, fast-track project involving 16 months on a new Aurora Baycare Medical Center in Green Bay.

Most of the stadium ductwork is routine rectangular, according to Martin, much of it wrapped, fabricated off-site and trailered in from the company’s 23,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility located 20 minutes away. Some of the suites will use spiral duct.

Bird's-eye view of some of the metal roofing going into place.

Local suppliers favored

The hvac equipment, according to Howald, is all Trane, including chillers, air handlers, fan coil units for the suites, furnaces in the concession areas, etc. Many liked that idea especially since Trane was at one time headquartered in LaCrosse, Wis., and still has its North American Commercial Group located there. Similarly, all of the fans are Greenheck, based out of Schofield, Wis., and building controls are from Johnson Controls, Milwaukee (it should be noted that sometimes during the course of a project equipment selections can change).

Equipment includes 47 Trane air handling units, five 400-ton chillers, 218 fan coil units, 224 VAV boxes, 62 furnaces and 56 unit heaters; four Cleaver Brooks boilers; 319 Greenheck fans; and 4,067 Carnes grilles.

Bidding such a large project was tricky, Martin said, in part due to the material handling and the logistics of getting around the huge job site. Also, some of the duct is being joined 85 feet in the air.

Then there is football to consider.

“We had to stop all work,” when the Packers played the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football in September (the home team won, 37-0). “It was the first Monday night game after the September 11 terrorist attack on America, and security was especially tight. Other than that, work goes on pretty much as scheduled, although no work is done on Saturdays before a Sunday home game.”

Lambeau Field was built in 1957 for a mere $960,000, and was initially called “City Stadium.” It was renamed “Lambeau Field” in 1965 after the death of the Packers’ first coach, Curly Lambeau.

Together, Tweet-Garot and August Winter employ approximately 600 workers and will be able to dedicate 80 to 100 of them towards this project over the next 16 months.

Dave Carter of Tweet/Garot is the hvac project manager. Ray Roney and Joe Fernandez are sheet metal superintendents. Kipp Sturdivant and Sean Baumgart are steamfitter superintendents. Don Jenneman is the plumbing project manager. Bill Miller and Dave Delcore are plumbing superintendents. Chris Warren is the company safety director. Vice president –plumbing Tom Brawner has been with the company for 33 years; vice president – hvac Michael Sturdivant has been with the company for 34 years.

Tweet-Garot has a reputation for -safety. Its employees are responsible for evaluating site safety prior to job-site involvement. The company’s safety department works closely with estimating personnel to establish safety priorities within all business proposals. Company employees participate in safety practice training, and at the company’s last safety day, 92% of the employees voluntarily attended the event.

Since 1992, the company has experienced a dramatic decline in the injury rate and the company credits the improvement to the total safety commitment by the management team and involvement of all employees.

Tweet/Garot has received awards from the Associated General Contractors (AGC) for five consecutive years for having a Lost Time Incident Rate 75% below the national construction rate. The company has won safety awards from SMACNA, the Mechanical Contractors of America (first place earlier this year) and is a state Corporate Safety Award Winner as well. It is a member of SMACNA, ASHRAE, MCAA and the Associated General Contractors of America.