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Ted Eisenreich keeps Lambeau Field humming
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of profiles about the leadership of the Green Bay Packers and how business is managed at 1265 Lombardi Ave.
GREEN BAY - He's Lambeau Field's other Ted.
Director of facility operations Ted Eisenreich and his staff are responsible for making sure everything the Packers own or manage works and looks as good as the day it was built, down to and including the grass on the fields. Or maybe especially the grass on the fields, given the Packers' and the NFL's compulsions about playing surfaces.
Eisenreich, 53, has help in that regard from fields manager Allen Johnson, considered one of the best in the business. With a full-time staff of 24, plus numerous part-time employees and contractors for everything from trash collection to HVAC repair to plugging leaks and more, Eisenreich oversees an ever-expanding complex of high- and low-tech features. And on game days, he and assistant director Mike Moynihan are responsible, also, for ushers, ticket-takers, parking attendants and grounds crews.
"He doesn’t get a lot of publicity, but he’s such an important person. He takes such pride, not just him but the whole staff, takes such pride in the whole facility," said Mark Murphy, Packers president and CEO.
Eisenreich, in his 36th year with the team, started out cutting grass. The Packers are his only full-time employer. He graduated from Seymour High School on a Sunday and joined the Packers on Monday. His vacations are short, because he doesn't like coming back to piles of work.
"Not counting what I call routine maintenance work, I probably have at least 15 miscellaneous projects ... I'm trying to execute beyond normal stuff," he said.
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He works 50 to 55 hours a week — in the offseason.
"That's while I'm here. Many evenings, I'll have dinner and work at home," he said. "In the season it's more, obviously."
The Packers use an automated system to schedule maintenance, so work orders are printed whenever an item is due for attention, whether it be weekly, monthly or annually. The system also tracks the number of hours equipment operates so they can follow manufacturer recommendations for maintenance.
"There is a list, so we need to prioritize. Any given day, there is enough work for our entire staff," he said.
Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District, which owns Lambeau Field jointly with the city of Green Bay, reviews the stadium annually with the assistance of consultant Sigma Group. The reviews generally find a handful of small things, but overall the reports are positive.
"The audit always comes back that it's one of the best-maintained stadiums, if not the best, that this group deals with," said Patrick Webb, executive director of the stadium district. "They are always trying new stuff. When they have a problem, they are looking for solutions."
As an example, the Packers had to be creative when upgrading cellular and Wi-Fi coverage at Lambeau.
"We don't have an upper deck, so a lot of those antenna-type structures we can't hang underneath. So we had to be creative and come up with boxes we tried to make blend in with the facades," he said.
Turnover is infrequent; four of 24 staff members have been with the Packers for 30 years or longer. The department has two shifts, with people on site from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily. The night shift is the biggest challenge.
"The way we work it is six days on, three days off, so you're going through weekends, you're working evenings. So it's a difficult shift for some people," he said.
An employee who recently was promoted after the retirement of a manager had been on the night crew for 14 years.
The Packers form special internal committees for big events, such as last year's Kenny Chesney concert or the coming University of Wisconsin-LSU football game on Labor Day weekend. Because of his job, Eisenreich is on most of those committees.
One of his tasks for the UW football game was building a temporary locker room. The Packers' locker room will not be available and Wisconsin chose the visiting team space. The Packers will convert their gym to a locker room for LSU, for which Eisenreich is having portable lockers manufactured because he couldn't find any to rent that met specifications. As a result, they'll have extra lockers for any future college games they host.
Ted Eisenreich on ...
» Setting standards: "When I assembled that staff, I tried to put people in place that they took pride in ownership in our facility and they treated it as if it was their own, not only how they maintained it, but managing budgets like it's your own money."
» Working for the Packers: "It's fun to be part of an organization that you have multiple people pushing for a single goal. It makes it easy."
» Hosting a college game at Lambeau: "It's easier because it is football and that's what we are designed and built to do. It's much easier on the field. We don't have the damage of a stage on the field."