Renovating Lambeau Field

November 25, 2002
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Surveying the historic stadium in Wisconsin.



Mention Lambeau Field and some die-hard football fans’ eyes begin to glaze over. The revered NFL stadium tops the list as Holy Grail for some. Today, that Holy Grail is undergoing a $295 million facelift. Rice Engineering Inc. of Luxemburg, Wis., surveyor Kip Inman shares his own story of working on Mecca.

In 1979 I moved to Wisconsin, a beautiful state with lakes, streams, hills, valleys—and the Green Bay Packers. After moving here, it didn’t take long to get caught up in a certain “electricity” in the air known as “Packer Fever.” So you can imagine my enthusiasm when I was asked, more than 20 years later, to do construction surveying for the Lambeau Field renovation project in Green Bay. A vast undertaking involving $900,000 of construction work each day at its peak, the project started in January 2001 and is slated to be finished in time for the 2003 National Football League (NFL) season.

The Lambeau Field project will add roughly 10,000 seats to the stadium, expand the concourse, and add restrooms and concession areas. A large 365-day destination venue is being added to the stadium’s East Side. Called Titletown, the 366,000-square-foot, five-plus-story atrium building houses an expanded Packers Pro Shop and will house a relocated Packer Hall of Fame, a stadium club and offices for Packers’ administration and football operations. Jointly financed by the Green Bay Packers and county taxpayers (the team is actually owned by the fans, with 4,748,909 shares held by 110,901 stockholders), the entire stadium is gaining a “retro” look with outside walls of red brick with green accents and glass. The finished project will have nearly three times the space of the original stadium (1,650,000 ft2 new vs. 650,000 ft2 old). Construction has been continuous while the Packers continue to play in their home stadium throughout the project.

The Green Bay Packers are represented by Hammes Company Sports and Entertainment, LLC of Madison, Wis., which has been serving as project manager on the renovating project since 1999. The general contractor for the project is Turner Construction of Chicago, Ill., but I was initially hired to do layout for the Lambeau Field project by Miron Construction of Menasha, Wis., for foundation pads, grade beams and column steel bolt settings. Later, as the project progressed, Turner recognized the power of the equipment I use, the Trimble 5600 Total Station (Trimble, Sunnyvale, Calif.). To save time and money, I became the surveyor for 12 contractors working concurrently on the project’s three phases.

Truthfully, I think getting the Lambeau Field project had as much to do with my equipment as with me. The 5600’s capabilities coupled with my experience were a good fit on the project and enabled me to increase my productivity and efficiency. For example, the Free Station program on the 5600 allows me to perform staking from any point in the stadium. Since primary control is outside the stadium, I can set up on any point on any level with the total station, use the Free Station routine to determine my position in just minutes—and perform layout. Without Free Station, it could take two hours just to get control.

Renovating a Stadium

The Lambeau Field gridline geometry consists of six radius points with two flat ends at the end zones. Two large radii make up for the east and west sides, and four small radii make up for the four corners. A total of 94 rays encompass the entire bowl. The new construction does not disturb the original bowl or the famous “frozen tundra,” with the exception of the new Packers’ tunnel, which was moved to the southeast corner of the stadium. By eliminating the three skybox tiers, and adding a new 87 ft supporting structure ring, the project adds 10-11 rows of seating and new sky boxes to the stadium’s periphery. Seating capacity will be increased from 60,790 to approximately 71,000 fans.

Phase 1 is by far the largest portion of the project, including the entire Titletown area and both the East and West stadium sections—60 rays or 2/3 of the stadium. Phase 2, jump-started in May 2002, will add to the 15 rays of the South End; Phase 3, begun in July 2002, will complete the North End’s 19 rays.

The entire renovation project has taken on a domino effect. Sections containing about five rays are built in sequences (the project includes about 80 sequences, incorporating both the bowl and Titletown). First I do the footing pad layout, then the column steel is set, then concrete floors are poured, then I move in and lay out the walls and so on. The sequences continue all around the stadium until the entire bowl and Titletown are complete. As the surveyor I have the opportunity to work with all the contractors and be part of every phase of the renovation. I feel fortunate to be here; it’s the pinnacle of my career.

Kip Inman shoots for curb and gutter layout in west parking lot.

Setting Control

Lambeau Field is oriented on a coordinate system using a fictitious North that precisely dissects the stadium. After setting 12 primary control points around the stadium, I rotated them to Lambeau Field’s coordinate system. Twelve control points give me at least two visible points wherever I go on any floor; control points a quarter-mile away from the stadium work very well, especially when penetrating the upper levels. If control points were too close to the building I would need to be right out on the edge of the building or the floors would obscure the control. Wherever I am in Lambeau, the 5600 resects my position after I shoot two distances to the two known points and turn the angle between them. With the control points, I can go to any level and still get good positioning; the resected position of my instrument is accurate enough to get excellent layout results.

The initial layout was for footing and grade beams. Lambeau Field’s grid line geometry plan has the 94 rays deflecting every seven degrees of the bowl to create pie-shaped wedges around the stadium’s periphery; it also includes eight alphabetically tagged concentric circles emanating out from mid field. The Atrium, about 1,000 ft on the East Side wall, is included on the plan’s 26 grid line section. The plan gives me coordinates for each piece of the structural steel required for the site. For each column of the new 87 ft stadium ring, I need to derive the center for the bolt setting pattern. Each bolt setting has its own bolt pattern template; I have to find the precise center in order for the bolts to exactly match those on the steel column’s footing pad. With about 600 steel columns, I’ve done a lot of computations.

Contractors then dig holes for the footing pads based on my positions, so the positions have to be accurate. They then pour concrete to fill the holes halfway, some of which are as large as 12x12x6 ft; the second half of the pour holds the bolt pattern. Each steel column is then bolted onto the pattern; since the pattern has to align with the same pattern in the column, my center position is critical.

As each column is erected, I check for plumbness. I monitor the column’s plumbness left to right by comparing it with my vertical crosshair. But the crosshairs don’t work for measuring plumbness towards or away from me. For plumbness in the sighting direction, I shoot a distance to the base of the steel column just above the footing. I then continue monitoring distances as I point my telescope up the column. Since a regular prism wouldn’t lie flat against the column, I use a driveway reflector, which lies flat and reflects the EDM’s infrared beam. As the Trimble 5600 Total Station converts these distance measurements to horizontal distance, it’s easy to monitor values as I move up the column. Measuring distances enables me to monitor plumbness in both planes with a single instrument from a single setup.

New Sections

As each section of the steel structure goes up, metal decking is laid down and concrete decking poured for the floors. I was given wall layout plans to lay out all the concrete walls on every floor. It’s been a big job, involving layouts for the additional seating areas as well as the concourse areas on each floor in the newly added ring: concession stands, restrooms and hallways. As we get to the upper levels I provide layouts for the skyboxes, press boxes and curtain wall glass.

Because of the stadium’s form, everything has arches; some concession stands have rounded, convex walls. Having everything on an arc created problems for many of the contractors when they tried to create a 300 ft radius: their radius points fell out in the field. Because of the size, you couldn’t use a tape and many found it impossible to lay out the large arcs. However, I was able to use the 5600’s servo Set Out routine to compute coordinates of an arc; I compute the coordinates of a wall’s face and load these into the data collector. When I use Set Out it doubles my speed: all I do is punch in the points of the curve I am setting out and the servo instrument automatically aims at each point. I just keep the prism online and correctly set the distance. With Set Out I can rapidly lay out all the points on each arc; I use it for the curved walls, sky boxes, press boxes, football-shaped locker room (the ceiling looks like the stitching on a football), bathrooms and the Packers’ offices. I also laid out the vomitories (tunnels into the stadium), spa, showers, basketball and racquetball courts, weight room, media rooms, interview rooms and coaches’ rooms. It has made what could have been a formidable task easy.

The Titletown area was actually the simpler section since it had perpendicular lines. The large area includes a wide-open atrium, elevators, stores, restaurants and office space for the Packers.

Inside the Lambeau Field bowl, Kip Inman does layout for vomitories.

Exterior Precast Walls

The next sequence is the exterior precast brick walls, which come in interlocking panels up to 8 ft wide. I provide layout for each exterior precast panel to maintain plumbness. I mark the 3⁄4” joint on the floor on every level every 8 ft for the panel’s width. There are thousands of floor marks for these walls. The marks show where the joint would be on the floor, so when they start stacking the walls they’d know exactly from where the edge of the wall should be plumbed.

Here—as with any layout I do—I constantly use the 5600’s Tracklight feature, which enables my rodman to find the line-of-sight quickly and easily. Basically, the instrument throws out a three-colored light beam. If the rodperson is right of line they will see a red light beam, if left of line they see a green one. When online, the rodperson will see a narrow white light beam the width of which coincides with the EDM’s beamwidth. Once the prism is brought into the EDM’s beam the Tracklight will flash twice as fast as before, confirming that the prism is properly aligned; it makes finding your line fast and simple. After I finish laying out the panels, the glass installers come in and fit in the windows, basically just filling the holes with glass.

Inside the Bowl

Since the arena has been expanded outward about 87 ft, we need to set precast seats and steps in every new section in the new bowl. I provide marks on the raker beams—beams that run on an angle and are step-shaped for the precast seating and steps—so they can be centered properly. While raker beams aren’t always precise, concrete precast steps are precisely made; so they need an exact center mark of the raker beam to install the steps correctly. It’s fascinating; I get tethered on a harness, boomed up on a snorkel lift and work alongside masons, steel workers and glass installers.

I’ve been perched on top of horizontal steel beams for the new scoreboard with my total station. Tiptoeing on 12" of steel, I used Free Station to my control points below and provided layout for the new scoreboard stanchions. By supplying marks on the steel beams ahead of time, the cranes could quickly and easily position the stanchions.

Kip Inman does curb and gutter layout north of the Plaza.

Outside Work

After the inside of the bowl sections were finished, we turned to the outside work: curb and gutter for the parking lots, flat work and sidewalks, which were curved and dissected on the 94 rays. There’s a lot of very intricate concrete work outside Lambeau Field. On the North End, there’s a new dynamic plaza into which they sandblasted a 30 ft Green Bay Packers logo “G” in a green and gold concrete mosaic. I had to lay out all of the construction joints to tell them which piece was green and which was gold. I also laid out retaining walls, steps and flagpoles, lights and trees—and in the parking lots, all the lighting and parking stripes.

Phase 1 was completed August 26 in time for the first home game against the Cleveland Browns (the Packers won). Phase 2 started early last May when work was resequenced to allow some of the floors to be poured and the precast walls to be put up without disturbing the existing scoreboard, which needs to stay up for the season on the South End. They’ll take the scoreboard down at the end of the season and complete the seating, steps and final items, then put the screens back up. The South End may look done because the outside face is complete, but it’s still in process.

Phase 3 started in July when we began laying out and digging holes, starting the whole process over again for the North End. It’s still incredible to say I am part of it. It’s a part of history.

Opened in 1957, Green Bay's City Stadium initially cost $960,000 and was dedicated by Vice President Richard Nixon. The stadium's name was changed to Lambeau Field in 1965 after the death of Curly Lambeau, the Packer's founder and first coach; original seating capacity was 32,150 fans.

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