Ray Nitschke Field is ready for some football.
All that remains to do this week is paint the lines, hashes and numbers on the Packers’ training-camp practice field, and it’s all set for the team to get back to work on Saturday night.
Fields Manager Allen Johnson said the last week of July was the target for Nitschke Field all along, regardless of the labor negotiations.
Johnson and his crew simply followed the normal schedule of fertilizing, soil relief and other processes throughout the spring and summer so that the field would be ready if training camp started on time, which it will.
“Nothing really changed for us,” Johnson said. “Business as usual.”
The only thing that did change was with Clarke Hinkle Field, the team’s main practice field during the regular season that resides on the opposite side of the Don Hutson Center from Nitschke.
Hinkle Field didn’t get the normal wear and tear of the spring OTA sessions because there were none. So, both fields are ready to go for training camp and the regular season, respectively, no thanks to last week’s heat wave.
Johnson said any excessive heat slows grass growth, so in the repeated 90-plus temperatures last week the fields required some extra care.
“More watering and fungicide applications,” Johnson said. “The job is dictated by the climate.”
Players have not practiced on either field since the end of last season. The south end of Nitschke Field is the heated portion, so the team’s last outdoor winter practices were held there.
The rest of Nitschke Field hasn’t been used since training camp ended last summer, while Hinkle Field hasn’t been used since midseason 2010.
The painting of Nitschke this week will take about 1½ days, Johnson said. A full 100-yard field will be painted beginning at the north end. A shorter field, around 70 or 80 yards, will finish out the south end.
“Just have to touch it up,” Johnson said. “It’s ready to go.”