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The Perfect Fit: Green Bay, Wisconsin

31 Oct, 2011

By: Juli Anne Patty

 

Historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Visiting sports teams can tour and hold events at the stadium.

With Lambeau field at its center, Green Bay, Wisconsin, is a legendary sports town, a place where sports endeavors become sports triumphs. Greater Green Bay— a collection of seven communities, including the Green Bay metro area—has a passion for play that fuels an ongoing investment in a range of sports facilities. Add to that the experience and expertise of a true sports town, and Green Bay makes sure every event surpasses its goals for success.  

How can Greater Green Bay make this promise? It’s all about knowing sports, knowing sports facilities, and always, always finding the perfect fit.  

“We have a remarkable number of extraordinary facilities here in Greater Green Bay, and we want every event in Green Bay to exceed its goals and expectations,” says Joel Everts, sports sales manager, Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau. “For that reason, we make sure that, in terms of partners, volunteers, facilities and so on, every event finds its perfect match.” 

Fortunately, finding the ideal venue in Green Bay is like a sports shopping spree. With a stunning variety of facilities, along with new and newly renovated venues joining those ranks all the time, Green Bay makes it easy to find a home for any event.

Cornerstone Community Ice Center

Green Bay might be famous for football, but it’s also firmly rooted in the upper Midwest, which means a serious focus on ice sports. Built in 2000, the Cornerstone Community Ice Center is a privately owned, non-profit facility and home to some of Wisconsin’s most prominent ice sports organizations: Green Bay Area Youth Hockey Association; Cornerstone Speed Skating Club, the state’s largest speed skating club; the 2008 and 2011 NCAA Division 3 Men’s Hockey Champion St. Norbert Green Knights; and St. Norbert Women’s Hockey team. 

The Cornerstone Community Ice Center is Wisconsin’s only three-sheet (two NHL and one Olympic) ice sports facility, making it ideal for a range of sports and events. The venue has a list of successful high-profile events to prove it, including the 2005 and 2010 USA Hockey Women’s National Championships and the 2010 US Speed Skating Jr. Nationals, each of which drew approximately 3,000 spectators. The 2010 USA Hockey Girls Tier 1 National Championships took the facility’s large-event experience to a new level, with 48 teams, 1,000 athletes and 6,000 spectators.

The 10,500-seat multi-sport Resch Center

“Having three sheets of ice that can be used at one site makes us ideal to host these large events,” says Don Chilson, manager, Cornerstone Community Ice Center. “Staffing volunteers and management of the events is so much easier when all the activities are in one facility instead of being spread across three separate sites.” 

Adding to its appeal, the Cornerstone Community Ice Center is located in Ashwaubenon Sports Complex, a 42-acre facility that includes venues for soccer, softball, and tennis as well as a skateboard park.

The Inside Scoop

Green Bay has a unique sports event partner, PMI Entertainment Group, which brings a variety of exceptional events to the area and operates a number of extraordinary facilities. 

“Our focus is serving our clients and the citizens of Brown County, and we see it as our job to provide a great variety of entertainment and sports,” says Cora Haltaufderheid, chief operating officer/senior vice president, PMI Entertainment Group. “We take risks in order to bring new things to the community.” 

Those risks play out, for the most part, in one of several venues operated by PMI, including the 10,500-seat Resch Center and the 7,500-seat Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena, both located in the Brown County Veterans Memorial Complex. Shopko Exhibition Hall, with its 43,000 square feet of “column free” exhibition space, is another PMI venue that draws unique events to Green Bay. 

Both the Resch Center and the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena offer additional ice in the Green Bay area, and the Resch Center is the home of Green Bay Gamblers Hockey, a United State Hockey League (USHL) youth hockey team purchased by PMI.  

“We bought the Gamblers because we wanted to be sure that youth hockey stayed in our market,” says Haltaufderheid. “It’s a big part of the community.”

Soccer at Southwest Park

But versatility is also a key feature of PMI’s venues, and all three facilities have hosted a remarkable variety of events: the WIAA boy’s sectional basketball tournament played at Brown County Arena for 46 years; gold medal athletes battled at the Resch Center during the USA Volleyball World League in 2007 and 2008; and the Resch Center welcomed the NCAA Division 1 men’s hockey Midwest Regional in 2006 and 2011. Partnering once again with Michigan Tech University, the Resch Center recently won the bid for the event’s return in 2012. 

With professional facilities like Lambeau Field and PMI’s array of venues, it’s no surprise that Green Bay is also home to college and high school facilities that are second to none. The University of Wisconsin Green Bay and Saint Norbert College both have fine athletic facilities, and Greater Green Bay’s communities offer some of the country’s finest high school facilities, with most of the area’s 10 high schools boasting four-court field house facilities with wood floors. 

Hitting the Fields

Green Bay’s outdoor facilities maintain the same standard of excellence apparent in all its indoor venues.  

“We recently co-hosted the US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championship with a neighboring community, bringing 214 teams from a 14 state region,” says Everts. “We hosted our part of the event at one of our newest facilities, Southwest Park in De Pere.” 

Completed in late 2009, Southwest Park offers six tournament fields, with a seventh temporary field available as needed. Greater Green Bay is also home to Akzo Nobel Park, a 92-acre sport complex with 10 soccer fields, four lighted softball diamonds, and an 18-hole disc golf course.  

Greater Green Bay’s commitment to sports is underscored by the area’s constant investment in its facilities, and the Bay Area Recreational Campus (BARC) offers the perfect illustration. With the mission to “offer the opportunity to celebrate the spirit of competition, promote the benefits of fitness and commemorate the unity of community,” BARC, currently in the planning stages, will be an 87-acre facility with sports fields of varying sizes and types, as well as a lighted championship field and club house. 

Softball also has a solid place in the heart of Green Bay, and in particular in the heart of Ashwaubenon.

USA Hockey at Cornerstone Community Ice Center

“We hosted the ASA 10-Man Modified National Tournament in 2007, the ASA Girls 12U Fastpitch Northern Nationals in 2009 and the 10U and 12U Girls Fastpitch Northern Nationals in 2005, and interestingly enough, each was hosted at different facility: the Ashwaubenon Sports Complex, with four diamonds; Ashwaubomay Park, four diamonds, and Pioneer Park, five diamonds,” says Rex Mehlberg, parks, recreation and forestry director, Village of Ashwaubenon.  

Those are just three of Ashwaubenon’s biggest tournaments. Strong relationships and deep experience have made Ashwaubenon a sports planner’s paradise. “We believe that by offering a good product, it will bring people into the Village of Ashwaubenon,” says Mehlberg. “They will stay longer and want to come back to visit our stores and stay in our hotels. This benefits the entire community.”

The Lambeau Legacy

Green Bay means a remarkable variety of venues, so sports event planners can find the perfect fit for any sport. And while this is a community that’s so much more than football, the roots of Green Bay’s sports supremacy are definitely planted at Lambeau Field. In fact, it’s one of the first stops many sports teams make when they hit town.  

“Inside Lambeau, one of the few year-round stadiums in the NFL, there are both attractions and options for event planners. Inside the walls of Lambeau is the Packers Hall of Fame and Packers Pro Shop, as well as restaurants and meeting space - even the Atrium has possibilities for events," says Beth Ropson, director of sales at the Convention & Visitors Bureau. 

Magnificent though it is, Lambeau is just the beginning of what Greater Green Bay has to offer. So just ask yourself, what does your perfect event look like? Whatever it takes, the sports planning team at the Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau is ready to help you find the perfect fit. Visit them at www.greenbay.com.

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