Green Bay Packers' Titletown District infrastructure is innovative, complex

Richard Ryman
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Construction on the park and plaza portion of the Titletown District is progressing. April 6, 2017.

ASHWAUBENON - Building a sledding hill is not easy, as it turns out.

Especially when that hill is part coffee shop, conference room and green roof. That said, the Green Bay Packers' snow-tubing hill and ice-skating pond in the heart of the Titletown District are well underway and expected to open to the public by Thanksgiving.

"It's extremely challenging. From everybody we've talked to, it's never been done before," said Ed Policy, Packers vice president and general counsel, who is leading the Titletown project. "Green roofs have been around a while, but we don't believe anybody's done a green roof that would be used in this fashion."

Titletown District is a 35-acre commercial/recreational/residential development immediately west of Lambeau Field. Its anchors include Hinterland Brewery, which opened April 12, and Lodge Kohler hotel and Bellin Health Sports Medicine & Orthopedics clinic, both of which are expected to open by the start of the 2017 NFL season.

The park and plaza part of the district will be 10 acres of sledding hill, ice skating pond, promenades, adult game area, playgrounds and NFL-sized football field. Phase one focuses on six acres of the public space and includes each of those features.

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The hill will be 45 feet high, with the structure topping out at 60 feet. The cement slope will be covered with soil and grass — and a foot of snow in the winter. The grass must hold the soil in place, and withstand lawnmowers and snow-moving equipment. It will rest on concrete and a waterproof membrane that must keep the rooms below it dry.

"There's an awful lot going on on this hill," Policy said. "We are going to have a tube return. We'll have snow-making machines. We will have ice melt (equipment) on the steps that lead you to the top of the hill."

And a lot going on under it, where a cafe, skate- and tube-rental concession and second-floor conference room are filling space. Also, a skating trail will pass under the hill and around an island with a fire pit, in addition to a wider pond near the base of the hill. Nearby, a utility building will be home to a Zamboni and ice-melting equipment.

The foundation of the sledding hill in the Titletown District takes shape. April 6, 2017.

Fiber optic underground

The site is laced with underground fiber-optic cables and other unseen infrastructure. Titletown District is tied to Lambeau Field's security office and its production facilities south of the stadium for anything electronic media might want to do from the site, such as remote broadcasts. The infrastructure also accommodates wiring for lighting, music and a public address system, plus the needs of buildings not even decided upon.

"Before you begin digging, you really have to think it through and be planning programming in advance," Policy said. "Once you put in the mature trees and hardscaping, you don't want to open that up again."

The western portion of the park will be designed as part of Phase 2. It's size and programming will depend on the design of other buildings and parking needs, Policy said.

A plaza adjacent to South Ridge Road, between Hinterland Brewery and Lodge Kohler hotel will include a combination of paved area and green space. It could be used for fairs, festivals and such, and will accommodate pop-up tents and other temporary structures. Hinterland's beer garden and a Lodge Kohler cafe will have outdoor seating on each side of the plaza.

Walking areas include underground tubing to warm sidewalks and melt ice.

The route of the ice skating trail that will pass under the Titletown District sledding hill is visible at the construction site. April 6, 2017.

Billboard moving

Construction plans call for planting a large number of mature trees, mostly on the eastern half of the site.

A large electronic billboard at the corner of Lombardi Avenue and South Ridge Road will begin coming down next week. The digital components will be relocated to the west bank of the Fox River, south of State 172. The remainder of the structure will be removed the following week.

U.S. Bank, the only original building remaining in the district, likely will move soon. The Packers have said they would work with the bank to remain in the area. An available site that can accommodate a new office, including room for a drive-thru, is unoccupied property the Packers own on Argonne Street immediately east of Cabela's. Discussions are underway, though a lease has not been signed.

Contact and follow him on Twitter @RichRymanPG, onInstagram at rrymanpgor on Facebook at Richard Ryman-Press-Gazette. Or call him at (920) 431-8342.

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