Working between Green Bay Packers home games, National Riggers and Erectors, Inc. moved ahead with a tightly scheduled plan for expanding the legendary Lambeau Field, while maintaining its traditional character. Welding played a major role in the Plymouth, Michigan contractor's mission to erect the project's structural steel without interfering with scheduled play. National Riggers & Erectors is a Havens Steel Co. and specializes in structural steel erection, particularly in the Midwest and the South.
Expanding a Historic Stadium
Erected in 1957, and originally dedicated as City Stadium, Lambeau Field is the longest-tenured National Football League (NFL) stadium. It was renamed Lambeau Field in 1965, following the death of E.L. "Curly" Lambeau, founder and first coach of the Packers. Although known as one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, the facility has become one of the most recognized and envied venues in all of professional sports. During its almost 45 years of existence, it has undergone several major alterations, including numerous seating additions that expanded its capacity from an original 32,150 to its current capacity of more than 60,000.
The newest expansion project has added roughly 10,000 seats, as well as expanding the main concourse area and adding an upper concourse, more restrooms and concession areas. The $295 million facelift is also adding a five-story atrium to the east side of the stadium, to house a vastly expanded Packer Pro Shop, a relocated Packer Hall of Fame, a stadium club, and the offices of the Packers' administration and football operations. However, the project preserves the original field where the legendary Vince Lombardi once roamed the sidelines. When fully completed in 2003 the upgraded stadium will include almost 71,000 seats, with 62,000 in the bowl, plus private boxes and indoor and outdoor club seats. Total square footage will jump from 810,430 to 1,695,500.
Massive column splices required heavy weld deposition. National Riggers used 3/32" Innershield wire for the multi-pass welds, some of which took up to 14 hours to complete.
A Two-Part Project
The expansion is taking place in two phases. Initially, site work and steel erection of the outer structure were completed while working around the Packers' 2001 season. Jerry Szweda, Field Operations Manager/Safety for National Riggers & Erectors, Inc., says "We were putting up the steel between games. The day before the game, we'd pack everything up, move it back, and clean everything up." He adds that all the welding machines and other equipment had to be moved out of the way, entryways had to be cleared, fire blankets were removed from existing roof decks, and debris was cleaned up.
After the season, a demolition crew came in and removed part of the inner structure before National Riggers & Erectors returned to add more sky boxes and an upper concourse to complete its part of the second phase. Szweda points out that the goal was to have everything ready before the next season.
Welding Teamwork Wins Big
Heavy welding was required tosplice the vertical column sections, many of which are up to three inches thick. Szweda says there are a lot of column splice welds on the job. "Where they join two columns, backing bars were used when possible in lieu of backgouging." He says many of these column splice welds took all day to complete, and some required as much as 14 to 18 hours of welding.
For these and other heavy welds, National Riggers used 3/32" Lincoln® NR-305 Innershield® self-shielded, flux-cored wire electrode. Equipment included a Lincoln Commander™ 500 engine-driven welder and LN-8 wire feeder. The four Commanders at the site proved to be versatile DC welding units. Commander performance is enhanced with Lincoln Chopper Technology®, which provides greater control over the DC welding output and facilitates excellent arc starting and stability.
Chief welder Floyd Devoe says the Commanders were consistent when he welded the heavy columns. "You can push a high rate of speed, and it doesn't fluctuate. You don't get the voltage spikes that cause pin holes. It gives you a steady flow of power."
Team members involved on the project include (from left) Jerry Szweda, Field Operations Manager/Safety, and Floyd Devoe, Chief Welder, both of National Riggers & Erectors, Inc., and Ron Myers, Technical Sales Representative, The Lincoln Electric Company.
For the multitude of other welds, National Riggers had 16 Lincoln Ranger™ 305G engine-driven welders at the site. Typically, these were used with LN-25 wire feeders and 5/64" Lincoln Innershield NR-203 Nickel(1%) flux-cored wire electrode. Self-shielded Innershield electrodes are especially suited for drafty, outdoor locations such as this, as no external gas or flux is required.
Dean Droddy, QA & QC manager, says that National Riggers has standardized on these two types of wires after researching which ones would best fit the needs of the job. He says, "There are all sorts of electrodes we could use, but we found that these two gave us the best production. Standardizing also allows the welders to become more familiar with the wire."
Droddy adds that, in addition to the heavy column splice welds, the job also entailed a lot of moment welds, where a beam flange is beveled and welded to the column flange.
Welding Foreman Ray Grainger says all welds on the job were in accordance with the AWS D1.1 Structural Welding Code. He points out that all the column splice welds are full penetration and all are ultrasonically tested (UT). "The typical CJP (complete joint penetration) column splice weld detail was a single bevel, 45 degree included angle, with a ¼ inch root opening." He says these welds are made with the 3/32" NR-305 Innershield® wire. "It's hot and fast, and you can deposit a lot of it in a hurry."
Aerial view shows how addition extends around existing stadium bowl.
He adds that stick (SMAW) welding also was used, primarily to make field adjustments and engineering changes to the steelwork. "For the smaller jobs, it's faster to just take a SMAW electrode (AWS E7018) and make the weld," he explains. "The Lincoln welders are versatile. You can use them for wire or stick."
According to Szweda, all welders had to be certified in Wisconsin, which is stricter than some states. "Wisconsin doesn't accept certification from other states, so we tested everyone and got them their Wisconsin certifications." Because of the varied types of welds on the job, welders were qualified in all positions.
Equipment reliability was a big factor in maintaining productivity, and the Lincoln engine-driven welders were up to the task. Szweda says many of them were used 10 hours per day, six or even seven days a week. "They kept going in the heat, the rain, the cold. They were basically maxed out all the time. The welders themselves had helpers, so they could keep welding instead of going for more wire or supplies. Once you preheat, it's good if you can complete the weld that day."
Originally Written 4/05/03