A look inside the new Resch Expo
Green Bay Press-Gazette story
The new Resch Expo will have space for concerts inside, and outdoors on the plaza, when touring acts return
Green Bay Press-Gazette
ASHWAUBENON - There’s no shortage of space inside and out at the new Resch Expo, and PMI Entertainment Group plans to use both for concerts.
The $93 million, 125,000-square-foot building that opened in January will host more than trade shows, conventions and sporting events. It will also help to fill the gap for touring shows too large to play the 1,000-seat Meyer Theatre in downtown Green Bay but not quite big enough to warrant the Resch Center Theatre, a downsized 3,500-seat-plus configuration of the arena next door.
PMI manages all three venues.
“It just gives us that space we’ve never had. I’ve turned down so many concerts that fall between the Meyer Theatre and the Resch theater setup,” said Matt Goebel, who is general manager of the Meyer and is helping to book the Resch Expo. “This will be very helpful for us to be able to get that 1,500- to 3,000-capacity artist in this space.”
The Resch Expo has three main halls that measure 41,000 to 43,000 square feet each and are separated by movable walls. PMI will use Hall C, the one nearest the Resch Center and the kitchen, for concerts.
Capacity is 2,768 people, with seating layouts that vary from straight rows of chairs to the use of risers for additional seating in the back and on the sides, Goebel said. For general admission standing shows, capacity increases to 4,271.
Goebel said he is looking at acts in all genres of music as well as comedy.
Hall C, like the other two halls, has its own restrooms and grab-and-go concession stands. There are rigging points in the ceiling to suspend lights and speakers, ample power panels and, with two overhead doors, significantly easier access for tours to load in than either Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena or Shopko Hall offered when those venues stood at the same location.
“Do I think it’s going to be like the Weidner Center or the Meyer Theatre? Probably not,” Goebel said of the acoustics. “But it’s not going to be as bad as Brown County Arena.”
The former Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena hosted a who’s who of big-name entertainers for 60 years before it was demolished in 2019, but it had a well-deserved reputation for being an echo chamber for concerts.
Regular summer concerts expected on plaza
PMI also sees entertainment possibilities on the sprawling plaza in front of Resch Expo that connects with Bart Starr Plaza by the Resch Center. The entertainment group is exploring ideas for using that space on Green Bay Packers home game weekends and during the summer.
For concerts, an outdoor stage would face east from the Oneida Street end of the plaza with the Brown County Veterans Memorial and Lambeau Field as the backdrop for audiences. A cement platform offers a focal point for gathering or smaller stages as well as a built-in power. Two concession stands inside the Resch Expo open up onto the plaza for outdoor events.
The building’s design also allows for people on the plaza to come inside and use the restrooms without gaining full access to the building. It would eliminate the need to bring in portable toilets for outdoor events, Goebel said.
For larger concerts with national acts, PMI plans to work with the village of Ashwaubenon to close off Armed Forces Drive, which runs parallel to the plazas. The street, along with both the Resch Expo and Resch Center plazas, would have room for as many as 10,000 people, Goebel said.
PMI is also interested in doing regular concert series featuring local and regional bands, Goebel said, not unlike the Leicht at Nite series it offered for seven seasons at Leicht Memorial Park in downtown Green Bay.
Goebel is optimistic there can be musical offerings in some form out on the plaza this summer and that PMI may be able to work in a couple of concerts in Hall C in 2021. Exactly how the coronavirus pandemic is going to play out and how quickly COVID-19 vaccinations roll out are still unknowns. Both will be factors in determining gatherings.
The other big question will be finding acts who are willing to tour, Goebel said. Not everybody will be ready to return at the same time. With some states more restrictive than others on capacity limits, it also has to be financially worthwhile for acts to get back on the road.