IRON MOUNTAIN, MI (AP) Originating as Hagemeister Park in 1922, Green Bay’s Lambeau Field opened on Sept. 29, 1957 with an original seating capacity of 32,150.
Today, it stands as the most revered sports venue in the world, according to major sporting news surveys.
Living in the era of the new billion-dollar, skybox friendly stadiums, the newly-renovated Lambeau Field is the benchmark on how to create a stadium for today while retaining the pristine heritage of yesterday’s heroes.
Iron Mountain’s Mike Constantini had no way of knowing that when he left the mega-contracting firm of Turner Construction in Chicago eight years ago, his would be the fingerprints all over the new home of the Packers.
“I worked for Turner for over 15 years,” Constantini said. “We stayed in Chicago until 1995, and I just had a belly full of it. I was just tired and wanted to come home.”
His father, Bill “Bimbo” Constantini owned Bimbo’s Wine Press and Mike came back to help run the tavern and also open his own construction consulting firm. Mike credits his father for getting him started in the building trade almost 30 years ago.
“My dad had me help him with houses and apartment complexes, starting my freshman year of high school,” Constantini noted. “He really got me started in liking construction.”
When Constantini shook the dust of Chicago off to move home for a “better quality of life,” he figured he’d never look back. Guess again.
“I got a call from Turner saying they may be getting the Lambeau job,” Constantini recalled. “They asked if I would consider coming back and running the project as they needed someone who knew how to build.’”
Excited about the once-in-a-lifetime prospect, he still had to consult his family, as the job would take him away from home for the next three years.
“I had to talk it over with my mom and dad, as the situation involved the family business,” Constantini said. “They both said it was a pretty nice opportunity, one too good to pass up.”
Giving the big “yes” to Turner, Mike was given the title “Director of Field Operations,” or in essence, “The Man.’”
“My responsibility was to make sure that every thing happened on schedule, on time and on budget,” Constantini said. “That’s all.”
Added to the pressure of the daily management of a $296-million project, he was also very aware of just how hallowed the ground was he was working on. People come from all over the world just to have their picture taken in front of the stadium.
“In today’s market, pro sports is show business and so decentralized from the game,” Constantini said. “The Packers still have the original feel of what it’s all about. That is what is so great about the organization.”
Constantini noted that the organization operates so smoothly that the only way to appreciate the quality of the Green Bay system is to work for them.
“I saw it after working for them for three years,” Constantini said. “ESPN recently did a survey and they voted the Packers the top organization in all of sports. That is a tremendous honor.”
With all this in mind, it was up to Constantini to adhere to the strict budget, a tight deadline and find just the right people to work on the project. Turner decided to hire from the work pool of people and businesses who live near and cheer for the team they’d be working for.
“We started by finding workers in the Brown County area to come in and help,” Constantini said. “We understood exactly just how sensitive the community was and we did our best to make sure everyone in the area did the work.”