Sledding, skating part of Titletown District fun
ASHWAUBENON – The Green Bay Packers doubled down on the Frozen Tundra.
The team announced Thursday its public space in the Titletown District will include a winter tubing hill as well as a skating rink, football-themed playground, full-sized football field and programmable spaces.
"Today is a lot of fun because we get to focus on that playing part," said Ed Policy, Packers vice president and general counsel, who oversees the development. "Today's announcement is an open invitation for visitors and our entire community to come out and play at Titletown year-round."
The Titletown District is a 35-acre commercial/recreational/residential development immediately west of Lambeau Field. It's anchors include Lodge Kohler hotel, Hinterland Brewery and Bellin Health, all of which are expected to open by the start of the 2017 NFL season. Ten acres in the middle of the development will be a park and plaza.
Policy said the addition of the tubing hill to the conceptual plans announced in August 2015 came from focus groups that stressed three points: "Get us outside, get us outside in the winter and get us outside in the winter together."
RELATED: Hinterland begins construction
The team revealed the updated design Thursday at Lambeau Field. Construction is expected to begin later this year or early next, with a goal of completing parts of it by the end of next summer.
Phase 1 of the public space construction will consist of five components:
» A plaza adjacent to South Ridge Road, between Hinterland Brewery to the north and Lodge Kohler hotel to the south. It will include a combination of a paved area and green space. It could be used for fairs, festivals and such, and will accommodate pop-up tents and other temporary structures.
» A recreational strip between the skating rink and Hinterland Brewery, and another building, still to be announced, fronting Lombardi Avenue. It will be lined with trees and have features such as a bocce court, shuffleboard court, outdoor ping-pong tables and the like. Details could change, but that's the idea.
» The skating rink and tubing hill.
"The heart of the whole thing is the ice rink and the tubing hill," Policy said.
» A full-size football field with synthetic or hybrid turf.
» A specially designed playground unlike any other in the area. The Packers know it's unlike any other because they surveyed every playground within an 8-mile radius.
The tubing hill was inspired by a structure in Lincoln Center Plaza in New York. Policy lived near Lincoln Center, which had a structure with a grass roof that sloped to ground level. Underneath was a restaurant, stores and parking garage. Central Park was a block away, but Policy said the Lincoln Center site was always busy.
The original concept for the skating area included a large rock structure reminiscent of Wisconsin Dells, but the idea of a sledding hill grew from focus groups on how to use Titletown District's public space.
"It was a relatively flat plaza," Policy said of initial plans. "(The rock structure) was interesting, but it didn't do anything."
He asked architects to look at the Lincoln Center design. What they came up with includes a 45-foot high hill with 30 percent slope and 300-foot run. Part of the ice rink will pass under the middle of the hill. The west end will include a ground-floor cafe and a second-floor meeting space with an outdoor terrace. Large glass windows will make up the exterior walls for both, while interior walls will be made of cedar and Fond du Lac stone. Policy said the idea is that, from the outside, it will evoke a ski lodge.
The hill will have LED lighting and sliding will be toward Lambeau Field.
"It is designed so a 10- to 12-year-old can have a really fun ride," Policy said.
Access to the top of the hill will be by climbing it or by elevator. Attendants will monitor the hill at top and bottom.
In the winter, the hill will be divided into four sledding lanes, and the Packers will provide the tubes. Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said a sponsor will be found to help keep costs for the hill low. He said there likely will be some free days as well.
In summer, the hill could provide natural amphitheater-like seating for small concerts, a place to just sit and look over the city or to watch Family Night fireworks at Lambeau Field.
The park will have two mobile snow-making machines as well as chillers for the skating rink, making both available from Thanksgiving into spring.
The skating area will have two parts: an open skating area about two-thirds the size of a hockey rink and a skating trail that goes under the tubing hill and around a lushly landscaped island with a fire pit in its middle. The skating areas can be divided to provide space for separate events.
A snack bar at ground level under the hill will have rubber floors to accommodate skaters. The second-floor event space will have an open terrace and vista to the west.
In the summer, the pond will be drained. It will have a cement base and can provide additional table or event space.
The hill will be 45 feet high and the structure will top out at 60 feet. By comparison, Lodge Kohler will be 75 feet, and the hotel is not as high as the Lambeau Field south end zone structure, which is 150 feet.
The football-themed playground will include a 40-yard-dash area, climbing nets and play areas designed to replicate football drills at athlete combines. A sliding-board area will include a variety of ways for kids to climb to the top of the boards.
A preschool-age play area will be separate from the rest.
The full-sized football field will be available for football camps or youth football or soccer games. It will be fully lighted and mostly serve as open space available to anyone.
The Packers are not saying how much the upgraded development will cost. They have said their investment in the district, including land purchases, would be at least $120 million. That was before the public space plans were finalized.
"It is definitely an increased investment relative to where we were last year," Policy said.
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