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Packers' Lambeau renovation price tag grows by $25 million

'No tax money involved,' team assures stadium district board

Mar. 11, 2014
 
Packers Hall of Fame makes temporary move
Packers Hall of Fame makes temporary move: Artifacts from the Packers Hall of Fame were moved Monday to the Neville Public Museum for a temporary exhibit over the next year while construction takes place for new quarters for the hall at Lambeau Field. (Monday, March 3, 2014)
Work on the east side of the Lambeau Field Atrium continues as part of the renovation and expansion. / File/Press-Gazette Media

The Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field expansion project will cost $25 million more than initially planned.

Packers spokesman Aaron Popkey told the Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District board Monday that new equipment and more extensive construction would drive the cost of the second phase to $166 million.

The first phase —which included nearly 7,000 new south end zone seats, new digital scoreboards and other improvements — cost $146 million. The second phase, now under construction, includes relocating and expanding the Packers Pro Shop, and relocating Curly’s restaurant and the Packers Hall of Fame.

A new chiller for air conditioning and new boilers for heat accounted for much of the increase, but it also was decided to make the Packers Pro Shop bigger than planned, which required more excavation. The team also plans upgrades for the new atrium restaurant, Harlan Plaza, the south end zone viewing deck and general technology.

“A lot of this is increasing our operational efficiency; back of the house sorts of things,” Popkey said. “It’s a cost we are taking on. There’s no tax money involved.”

The Packers are bearing the cost of both phases of construction with assistance from NFL loans and a contribution by the stadium district from season-ticket holder user fees.

Work on the Pro Shop, Harlan Plaza and a new east gate are scheduled for completion before the annual shareholders meeting in July.

Board Chairwoman Ann Patteson said she was glad to hear the budget increase was because of added work and not budget overruns.

“Sometimes, when a project is out of budget, that’s a red flag for other issues,” she said.

• Board members agreed to provide up to 50 percent, but not more than $15,000, to fund a hotel study for Green Bay that looks specifically at the feasibility of Frantz Community Investors’ plan for redevelopment of Hotel Northland, 304 N. Adams St., into a high-end venue.

Greg Flisram, Green Bay economic development director, said the study would cost $25,000 to $30,000 and Frantz would pay half. He said the developer wanted to test its new plan against market conditions, or, as Mayor Jim Schmitt summarized it, “What is the appetite for $135 rooms?”

“They are going to have to do this to prove to a bank this is a viable project,” Flisram said.

Frantz has a purchase agreement for the building, which is owned by Wisconsin Housing Preservation Corp.

The study will be conducted by HVS, a global hotel management and consulting company.

Board members agreed to the funding after they confirmed the study would not be the exclusive property of the city or Frantz, and could be used by the board or other hotels and developers.

• Executive Director Patrick Webb said current sales tax collection and investment trends indicate the board will be in position to call for an end to the 0.5 percent sales tax in a little over 14 months, or near the end of May 2015. The tax could be terminated at the end of September 2015.

The stadium board receives money from a 0.5 percent Brown County sales tax that helped fund the 2003 renovation of Lambeau Field.

The district needs about $91 million to cover its maintenance responsibilities through the end of the Green Bay Packers’ current lease in 2031. It set aside more than $50 million so far, and receives about $20 million annually from the Brown County-only sales tax.

The district received $2 million in sales tax money in February, slightly less than in February 2013, but 7.7 percent ahead of last year’s first two months. In 2013, it finished 8.7 percent ahead of the previous year.

rryman@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @RichRymanPG or on Facebook at Richard Ryman-Press-Gazette.

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