Ted Eisenreich can now say he has turned a basketball court into a football locker room.
"Been involved in a lot of construction projects but never put a locker room together," said Eisenreich, director of facility operations at Lambeau Field.
Eisenreich and his staff spent a day transforming a recreational basketball court within Lambeau Field’s stadium into locker rooms to be used by LSU’s football team when the sixth-ranked Tigers meet Wisconsin on Saturday.
A staff of 10 completed the temporary locker room and training room Friday after 12 hours, laying deep purple carpeting over the court and placing 80 newly constructed plastic laminate lockers against the walls. The basketball court is used by Packers players for recreational purposes, said Gabrielle Valdez Dow, Packers vice president of marketing and fan engagement.
“We built a second locker room for LSU. That, in itself, is new to us,” said Valdez Dow, who was not sure of the cost of the project. “Our operations team has been planning (this) since last year, what the lockers will look like and all.”
Lambeau Field administrators are ramping up for their first college football game in more than three decades. St. Norbert College hosted Fordham at Lambeau Field in a Vince Lombardi Memorial Game, in 1982 and 1983.
This one is sure to draw a few more fans. The game is sold out, said Katie Hermsen, the franchise's public affairs coordinator. The Packers are expecting more than 80,000 fans. LSU sold 23,000 of a previously allotted 20,000 tickets, and LSU officials expect as many as 30,000 Tigers fans at Lambeau.
The construction of a locker room on a basketball court was the most cumbersome of all the adjustments, but there have been logistical issues, too. For example, Valdez Dow said, the NFL controls and books game crews and officials for Packers homes games. The franchise needed to do that for next week's game. They hired and scheduled game officials and a chain crew. They needed to find play clock operators, medical spotters and replay officials, too.
“It was a great learning opportunity,” she said. “We’ll be prepared for the future.”
Crews will begin painting the field after the Packers depart Wednesday for a preseason game at Kansas City. The team does not have a separate facility for a second locker room, like many teams. The Packers’ only locker room is at the stadium — the reason for that newly constructed locker room.
The Packers' locker room will go unused. Wisconsin, the home team for the game, will use the opponent's locker room.
The block LSU logo will be painted in one end zone, with the Badgers’ red “W” in the other. The game’s logo — the Lambeau Field College Classic — will replace the famous “G” at midfield.
The Packers’ final preseason game against Kansas City is Thursday, and the team will return Friday, with plenty of time to potentially attend the showdown between LSU and Wisconsin. Valdez Dow expects some players and possibly coaches to attend.
“If they want to attend, they’d have to go and purchase tickets,” Valdez Dow joked. “We’re waiting for those requests.”
Fans coming to Lambeau won’t need tickets to see the game. The Packers are constructing a giant LED video board in an enlarged tailgate area in the stadium’s parking lot. The area will include a beer garden, she said, and a stage.
Cold Sweat and the Brew City Horns, which touts itself as Wisconsin’s premier show band, will perform before the 2:30 p.m. kickoff.
Another band will play after the game: Wisconsin’s marching band. The band is scheduled to perform its customary “fifth-quarter” routine, a 15-minute postgame performance. Facing the winning team's stands, the band plays that team's fight song before turning to play the fight song of the loser. LSU is bringing its pep band, Valdez Dow confirmed.
Eisenreich is done with the biggest project of them all, converting that basketball court into a locker room. The basketball gym is lined with banners of legendary Packers players. Eisenreich’s staff had planned to remove or cover them. LSU requested they stay up.
"We have banners of the players who wore retired jerseys," Eisenreich said. "LSU folks were here and did a walkthrough. They asked if we could leave those up and not cover them."