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Skaters turn out for opening of Titletown District's Winter Jubilee
The ice skating rink and trail, Rockwood Terrace event space and 46 Below bistro opened Nov. 30, 2017 at the Green Bay Packers' Titletown District across from Lambeau Field. Sarah Kloepping/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY – Four-year-old Natalie Renkas was one of the first skaters on opening night of the ice pond and trail in the Titletown District.
She took tentative steps — helped by her mom, Amanda, who was skating backwards in front of her — her expression alternating between determination and smiles. Her older brother, Ben, plays hockey, but Natalie wants to be a figure skater.
"We've been out here all summer waiting for the ice and snow," Amanda Renkas said. "We've been excited to get on the ice."
The Green Bay Packers on Thursday kicked off what they are calling their Winter Jubilee at Titletown. It is the first time the skating pond and the path, which winds under the tubing hill and around an island with a fire pit, were open to the public. They are just a little smaller than a standard ice-hockey rink.
"To me, the most unique part of the unique part is the skating pond and tubing area," said Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy, after explaining that few developers would set aside a quarter of their land for a community park, as the Packers have done in the Titletown District.
Also opened Thursday were Rockwood Terrace event space and 46 Below bistro, both located under Ariens Hill, the snow-tubing structure adjacent and above the skating areas.
"I don't normally do this, but we are rooting for cold weather and snow so we can open the tubing hill," Murphy said.
Titletown District will be a hub of winter activity. Skating is available daily and the Winter Jubilee includes ice sculptors, small ice blocks for kids — or adults — to play with, Santa, an ice graffiti wall and the seven-minute Winter Jubilee Light Show, which will take place every half hour between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through the end of December. The blend of holiday-themed lights, music, special effects, animation and lasers will project onto Lambeau Field's outer west facade. The shows will include fireworks.
Kristen Vincent of Mountain also was among the first skaters. She was in town to do shopping, but was pleased to learn it was also opening day for the pond. She said she normally has to find lakes to skate on.
"We drive by here all the time," she said. "We just had to check out this new, amazing place."
Most of the activities in Titletown District are free. A schedule of activities and fees, where applicable, is available at titletown.com.
Skating will cost $5 on weekdays, $7 on weekends, $9 on game days and $2 on twice-a-month community days. Skate rental is $5, but $1 on community days.
Fees for skating and tubing will defray costs of operating the venues, but likely won't cover the entire expense.
Director of Public Affairs Aaron Popkey said the Packers looked at other skating venues when determining prices for skating and tubing.
The park's maintenance team will have five full-time and two part-time employees to begin with, a number that will grow as it becomes more fully developed.
Maintenance includes making snow and ice here and removing snow and ice there. Cooling tubes keep skating ice frozen, while heating tubes under sidewalks and stairs are designed to melt it.
The Packers are hopeful Ariens Hill will be available for tubing in a week or so. The weather forecast calls for below-freezing highs beginning Wednesday.
Making snow isn't as easy as turning on the machine. First of all, they need several days of below freezing temperatures and the turf needs to be frozen.
"Because it's on a structure, not a hill, there are weight restrictions," said Ted Eisenreich, director of facility operations. "Man-made snow is a lot heavier than normal snow."
The snow-grooming vehicle includes a GPS system that determines snow depth as it moves over the hill.
How often the hill or ice must be groomed will depend on weather conditions and use.
"If it's heavily used, every hour or 90 minutes," Eisenreich said of running a Zamboni over the skating pond.
Titletown District is a nearly 45-acre, multimillion dollar development bounded primarily by South Ridge Road, Lombardi Avenue, Brookwood Drive and Marlee Lane. Its anchors include Lodge Kohler hotel, Hinterland Brewery and Bellin Health Sports Medicine and Orthopedics clinic, all of which are open. The Packers and Microsoft announced plans for TitletownTech, a technology and innovation center, expected to open in fall 2018.
The park and plaza consists of the plaza, adjacent to South Ridge Road; an activity area that includes sections for horseshoes, shuffleboard, bocce, ping pong, bean-bag toss and other activities in the summer; playgrounds for three age groups, a 40-yard dash course with timer, the snow-tubing hill, ice-skating pond and trail, and full-sized football field.