Almost 80,000 fans will file through Lambeau Field, the legendary home of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, during each regular season home game in 2013. That is 7,000 more than during the 2012 season because of the newly expanded south end zone.

Twenty-one new water heaters were installed during the Lambeau Field renovations, a project that broke ground in January 2012. Now the stadium can use up to 132 A. O. Smith water heaters if the demand is there. Construction ran year-round, stopping only on Saturdays and Sundays during the 2012 football season. The enhancements make Lambeau Field one of the largest stadiums in the NFL.


Business need

Stadiums present a unique set of application challenges, which Packers staffers learned during the stadium’s initial expansion.

“During the original Lambeau expansion in 2002, to prevent a lot of exposed piping from freezing in the winter, we had to install one water heater per set of restrooms and one per concession stand,” says Bill Miller, the team’s plumber and technician. “This time around, the water heaters are now enclosed, which helped eliminate adding a lot of additional water heaters.”

A key component to the project was to make sure that hot water is readily available for fans. It’s a big concern at Lambeau where the water heaters are operated the most on game days, which at most is to only 13 dates out of the year. On game days, fans go through 250,000 gal. of water, both hot and cold.

In July, the team holds “Family Night,” which is the official dry run for stadium personnel and, of course, operating the water heaters at full force. For most teams, this preseason scrimmage is not a big deal. For the Packers it is always a sellout, so making sure everything is running smoothly is crucial.


Business drivers

Today, attendance at Lambeau is a strong mix of male and female fans. In the past fans were primarily men, meaning a greater need for men’s restrooms. Now, it’s approximately a 60-40 mix of men and women and the stadium has equal numbers of men’s and women’s restrooms.

Stadiums have an unofficial restroom-to-concession ratio of one per every 75 fans. At Lambeau, the ratio is smaller. There are more restrooms and concession stands than the average stadium.

With this expansion, 20 new concession stands and one new restroom per concession stand were added. The expansion added 7,000 new general seats, 2,000 of which are combination terrace suites that seat 8-10 people and includes group and outdoor seating. There are two water heaters per suite and each individual room has its own water heater. There also is a water heater in the laundry room.


Finding the solution

Engineers from mechanical contractor Tweet Garot out of Green Bay, Wis., chose the A. O. Smith Xi electric water heaters for the project. One person, usually Miller, only needs to flip a switch to shut off the water heaters during the offseason and can easily restart the units in July.

For smaller events at Lambeau Field, such as a recent Kenny Chesney concert, the team can choose to fire up only 75% of the water heaters. It’s easy for Miller to quickly glance at his list of water heaters and determine which ones should be fired up and which ones are already turned on. During the offseason, Miller can easily flush them out to prepare them for dormancy.

“We had no issues starting up the water heaters,” says John Buresh, the Lambeau Field project manager from Tweet Garot.

Due to the size of Lambeau Field, electric water heaters also provide significant savings to the Packers’ energy bill; essentially because the team can turn the water heaters on and off as needed.

Since volunteers staff Lambeau’s concession stands, it was important to choose electric water heaters and set them to a safe water outlet temperature of 120° F. Selecting electric over gas also meant there was no need to run gas lines or have flues throughout the stadium.

Due to space constraints during construction and weather conditions in Green Bay, staging the water heaters so they arrived when they were scheduled to be installed was essential to the success of the expansion.

A. O. Smith is the primary water heater provider for the Green Bay Packers. While the water heaters were manufactured at the company’s McBee, S.C., plant, all partners involved are from the Wisconsin area. Madison, Wis.-based general contractor/project manager Hammes Co. and Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based Soderholm and Associates helped coordinate the project for A. O. Smith.


 Charlie Adams serves the dual role of director of government affairs and chief engineer for the Milwaukee-based water heating and water treatment company. He has worked with A. O. Smith for more than 15 years in a number of engineering management positions.