terry charles | behind the stage | aug. 2019
It's anything but business as usual at the corner of Oneida and Lombardi. If you haven't driven past that neck of the woods lately you have missed Shopko Hall. Literally. It is gone. Demolition is well underway at the Brown County Veterans Memorial Complex to make way for a new $93M expo center, due to open in January of 2021. Crews officially started the process of tearing down the complex on May 1, but it wasn't until early June before Shopko Hall was down and gone.
The former Packer Hall of Fame building is gone, and as you can see in the photo, the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena is almost gone at the time of this writing. Officials already held a groundbreaking ceremony in mid-July.
Shopko Hall didn't come down easily. They gutted the inside and then cleared the structure of its walls. All that was left standing was the roof and the steel beams holding it up. After cutting the beams, they tried to pull it down with three large pieces of heavy equipment. It didn't work at first and after several hours of more cutting, the following day they were finally able to bring the structure down.
It certainly has been an interesting process to watch, especially since it's a place many of us have worked in for 20+ years. It is very strange to see a vacant lot and a pile of rubble. We have had many onlookers as the buildings have been coming down.
For those of us at PMI Entertainment Group, it has been a major period of readjustment that will continue for nearly two years. The large kitchen we use to cook everything for the complex was in Shopko Hall. We had to convert one of the concession stands at the back of the Resch Center to a temporary kitchen. It's not very big and has a limited cooking capacity, but we needed to have something on site.
Other things we're working through are rearranging some of the shows and events we produce that were held in the former buildings. The summer wedding show will now be in the Resch Center, while the winter wedding show will move to the Lambeau Field Atrium in February. A smaller version of the WBAY RV & Camping Expo will be in the Resch next year and other events will move either to the Resch, Lambeau Field Atrium or KI Convention Center.
Those employees who had offices in the Resch Center remain there, while all others have moved to the former Imperial building on Armed Forces Drive across the street from the Resch. The building has a ton of office space and a big storage area in the back which was key for us because we have a lot of stuff crammed back there that came from the back of Shopko Hall.
As the demolition continues and the building of the new expo center progresses, we will document as much as we can on the Resch Center Facebook page. We have a great view from the second and suite level floors of the Resch Center. There will be a lot of growing pains, but come 2021, Brown County will have an incredible new expo center to be proud of.
Terry Charles is public relations manager for Green Bay-based PMI Entertainment Group. He's all about media relations, publicity and social media for the Resch Center Complex, Meyer Theatre, Green Bay Gamblers Hockey and other events produced by PMI. When not at work, please don't hit him with your car as he runs and bikes around the Green Bay area. You can follow him on Twitter at @TCCharles.