Packers look to Tnemec Company to help forge winning formula in $295 million upgrade of Green Bay's legendary Lambeau Field

Talk about being asked to deliver under pressure. It doesn't take a "cheesehead" to realize that in Green Bay, winning in football isn't just a tradition - it's a mandate attributable to the Packers' unprecedented 12 championships during the team's illustrious 80-year history.

For reminders, the NFL football fan can recall those memorable clutch performances in the annals of the Packers' storied history at Lambeau Field, the team's home stadium since 1957.

There's the memory (or film clip for the more-youthful crowd) of Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr sneaking into the end zone behind guard Jerry Kramer in the "Ice Bowl" against Dallas to win the NFL title game in 1967. The temperature at game time was a couple of touchdowns on the wrong side of zero.

Then, in more recent times, there was rifle-armed Bret Favre leading "The Pack" to a 30-13 victory over Carolina in the 1996 NFC title game at Lambeau, on the way to the team's first of two consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

And now, the heat is on Tnemec Company Inc. to help keep Lambeau Field among the elite ranks of stadiums anywhere -it's been called one of the "top 20 sports venues in the world" by Sports Illustrated.

The owner of the Packers - the city of Green Bay - is counting on Tnemec to help carry the ball into a new era for the venerable football shrine. Tnemec, the Kansas City-based manufacturer of high-performance architectural and industrial-maintenance coatings, is supplying primers and topcoats for structural steel being used in a massive $295-million renovation - actually, it's being called the "Lambeau Field Redevelopment" by the Packers organization - of the 43-year-old stadium.

Now, that's pressure. After all, the Packer legacy can be tough to live up to, what with the standard set by the NFL icons E.L. "Curly" Lambeau, who founded the team in 1919, and dynasty builder and legendary head coach Vince Lombardi, not to mention superstars of past glories such as Starr, Paul Hornung and Ray Nitschke, and heroes of the contemporary era such as ace quarterback Favre. Surely, the Packers aren't going to put their trademark green and gold colors into the hands of a novice.

But then, Tnemec is no untested rookie when it comes to formulating and manufacturing paints that can perform when the going gets tough. And the going can get very rugged in frigid Green Bay.

Packers management is looking for another winner with this Lambeau makeover. Launched in 2001, the stadium redevelopment plan is the result of overwhelming public backing of a major upgrade of the facility as opposed to construction of a new stadium. One way or another, the club had determined that Lambeau was outdated, and a bigger, better stadium was needed to compete as new, amenities-loaded arenas sprang up around the NFL in recent years.

Key portions of the redevelopment include a capacity expansion to 71,500 spectators from the existing 60,890, the addition of private boxes and club seats, installation of high-tech replay boards in the end zones, and creation of "Titletown," a massive five-story atrium attached to the stadium that will house the Packers Hall of Fame, shops, restaurants, and other attractions.

Construction of the Lambeau Field atrium was to be completed before the opening of the 2002 football season. The total stadium upgrade is scheduled for completion a year later.

Tnemec Capitalizes on Previous 'Long Gains'

Tnemec, it turns out, was no walk-on prospect auditioning for the Lambeau coatings supply deal. If there were a Paint Hall of Fame honoring companies that supply coatings for sports stadiums, Tnemec would surely merit induction (see sidebar).

And Tnemec also had warmed up for the Lambeau redevelopment project beginning nearly 10 years ago, when the company started to score points with the Packers by supplying primers and topcoats for regular maintenance painting at the stadium. Tnemec made the most of its opening, says George Shannon, the company's executive vice president, by helping Lambeau's caretakers select appropriate coating systems designed to handle the harsh freeze-thaw cycles of the climate and the prior application of coatings that did not adhere to existing coats of paint.

Tnemec supplied a maintenance epoxy primer formulated to adhere "to just about any old paint," followed by application of a urethane topcoat, Shannon says.

But the Tnemec game plan really is built around the forging of strong relationships with the real quarterbacks of stadium projects - the architects, engineers and owners, Shannon says. In this case, the architect is a longtime Tnemec partner - the Ellerbe Becket firm of Kansas City - which Shannon considers one of the top stadium designers in the business.

"I think what separates Tnemec from the competition is our sales force and its work on specifications with architects, engineers and owners," Shannon says. "So when the contract is awarded, the coatings system is appropriate and provides the long-term performance that's needed.

"It's more than supplying coatings - it's relationships with architects, engineers and owners," he says, making the point that the average tenure of the company's sales representatives is 17 years.

Huddling with Project QBs Generates Winning Strategy

In huddling with designers, Tnemec looks at the project - the type of steel, the conditions - and puts together a coatings material and application program. In this case, Tnemec recommended sandblasting the structural steel for the stadium expansion to a condition specified as "SSPC Surface Preparation 6, or "SP-6," as it is known in the trade. The term refers to the degree of surface preparation and removal of contamination - mostly mill scale - common with new steel fabricated for commercial projects.

For most of the steel, painting started with one coat of Tnemec's Series 90-97 zinc-rich aromatic urethane primer, a moisture-cure, two-component product that cures rapidly and offers strong adhesion, even to surfaces that are in less-than-ideal condition for painting. This moisture-cure urethane serves as a basecoat that allows subsequent maintenance recoating "many, many times" without requiring extensive surface preparation or blasting, a benefit that can decrease future maintenance costs. Another primer - the company's Series 161 polyamide epoxy - was specified for interior steel in the atrium structure where the environment is less harsh and some cost savings are possible.

For topcoats, Tnemec is supplying its Series 1075 Endura-Shield II aliphatic acrylic polyurethane, a semigloss opaque coating that offers resistance to abrasion, moisture, weathering, and corrosive environmental conditions. A clearcoat, Tnemec's Series 76 Endura-Clear aliphatic acrylic polyurethane, is being used as a final coat on exterior exposed steel to provide additional ultraviolet (UV) protection. "Urethanes provide the best color and gloss retention, but all coatings will lose some degree of both over time," Shannon says, noting that the polyurethane clearcoat employs UV absorbers of the type used in automotive clearcoats.

The painting contractor, Tiffiny Decorating Co. of Chicago, is tackling the formidable assignment of on-site paint application for the exterior and concourse-level structural steel. The two concourses include structural beams, columns and joists of various sizes, most of them 40 feet in the air, which are being painted with the Series 1075 pigmented aliphatic acrylic polyurethane. The Series 1075 topcoat also is being used on the structural steel members that are part of five large pedestrian ramps.

The epoxy and urethane primers were shop-applied to the structural steel being used in the project construction.

Exterior portions of the stadium include numerous ornamental steel column and beam "Ts" that are being painted with the Series 1075 topcoat, and exterior steel exposures also received a clear topcoat of the Series 76 aliphatic acrylic polyurethane.

Eight massive light towers that rise more than 120 feet in the air are also being painted with topcoats of the pigmented and clear acrylic polyurethanes. Application on the towers is being done by a single painter perched in a "bosun's chair" lift device.

The contractor also is painting approximately five miles of steel-mesh handrails throughout the stadium with the Series 1075 acrylic polyurethane.

Shannon says the Series 1075 coating serving as the workhorse topcoat in the project (over 4,000 gal) is formulated to provide long-term durability and color retention. The urethanes being employed at Lambeau represent state-of-the-art coatings science for such settings. "Urethanes are not necessarily new technology to the industry, but these products are the latest and most advanced versions," he says.

"What we're really talking about here is steel. Painting steel in a difficult environment. The architects want to know, 'how do I paint this steel properly so we have as little maintenance as possible?' The cost of repainting is astronomical. You want to do it right the first time."

The topcoat is formulated to adhere well with either primer without the use of an intermediate coat, ensuring identical appearance of the trademark Packer green and gold colors throughout the stadium complex, Shannon says. The coatings are high-build to avoid the necessity of applying additional coats and keep labor costs under control.

"The key to success is getting very good surface preparation, selecting the right primer that will give long-term adhesion, and picking a topcoat that will give abrasion resistance, color retention and gloss retention," Shannon says.

Tnemec formulates these paints for service in any type of environment, he says. "These are products we sell every day from Florida to Alaska. They are not affected by extreme temperature swings."

Tnemec, thus, is confident that the green and gold of the new-look Lambeau will be prepared for any climatic challenge - even the next "Ice Bowl."