20 fun things to know about Resch Center for its 20th anniversary, from Elton John and Morgan Wallen to Mickey Mouse and Harry the chicken

Fans watch as Greta Van Fleet performs July 26 at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon. The venue is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Fans watch as Greta Van Fleet performs July 26 at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon. The venue is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

ASHWAUBENON - As the Resch Center marks 20 years, it's hard to imagine life without it.

No Elton John or the Eagles. No Eric Church or Morgan Wallen. No Greta Van Fleet or Megadeth.

No dressing up the granddaughters in princess costumes for Disney on Ice. No taking Mom and Dad to Trans-Siberian Orchestra's holiday tour every year. No date night out with Kevin Hart or girls night out with Bon Jovi.

No Knotfest.

To celebrate two decades of entertainment the Resch Center has brought to northeast Wisconsin, let's roll through 20 fun things you may or may not know about the arena and the hundreds of famous faces who have come through its doors.

1. That was then, this is now

The first concert at the Resch Center was Tool, with opening act Tomahawk, on Sept. 2, 2002. Ticket price: $35.

The most recent concert at the Resch Center was Ghost, with Carcass and Spiritbox, on Sept. 23. Ticket prices: $99.50, $79.50, $59.50.

PMI Entertainment Group manages the Resch Center, above, and the Meyer Theatre.
PMI Entertainment Group manages the Resch Center, above, and the Meyer Theatre.

2. Singing its praises

How dramatic of an upgrade was the Resch Center from the outdated Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena built in 1958?

“It’s just a whole classier feel than what we have. It’s like going from a ’55 Ford into a new Cadillac or Mercedes or something to that effect,” Ted Pamperin, who was Ashwaubenon village president at the time, told the Green Bay Press-Gazette in 2002.

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3. Frequent flyer/frequent pyro award

Trans-Siberian Orchestra has played the Resch Center more than any other musical act with a total of 23 concerts since 2003. That's a lot of pyro! The progressive rock band frequently plays two shows in one day and has kicked off its Winter Tour multiple times from the Resch, as it will once again at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra holds the record for the most concerts by one act in the 20-year history of the Resch Center. TSO, shown here during its 2019 visit, has performed 23 times in the building.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra holds the record for the most concerts by one act in the 20-year history of the Resch Center. TSO, shown here during its 2019 visit, has performed 23 times in the building.

4. All hail Cher

Tool gets the spot in local history as the Resch Center’s first act, but it was Cher’s visit a month later, for a stop on her Living Proof: The Farewell Tour on Oct. 6, 2002, that was billed as the Resch Center’s grand opening. She made sure everything about her sold-out show was grand, including making her entrance atop a chandelier dressed as an ice queen. Of course, as we know now, it wasn't really her farewell tour.

5. Musical chairs

Once in its 20 years, all of the seats in the arena bowl were removed to put a new finish on the concrete floor beneath. Plans are in the works to tackle that project again.

6. A real Mickey Mouse operation

Disney on Ice has brought one of its family tours to the Resch Center every year since 2003. Performances in 2020 were in February, just month before the pandemic halted live entertainment. In February 2021, it became the first touring production to play the Resch Center after a yearlong shutdown. It performed 13 shows of "Dream Big" to reduced-capacity crowds.

Aladdin tries to evade the guards during Disney on Ice's "Dream Big" ice-skating show on Feb. 20, 2020, at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon, Wis. Performances continued through Feb. 23.
Aladdin tries to evade the guards during Disney on Ice's "Dream Big" ice-skating show on Feb. 20, 2020, at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon, Wis. Performances continued through Feb. 23.

7. An arena with a view

The front glass wall of the Resch Center’s lobby features more than 500 panes of tempered glass. There are approximately 40,000 square feet of glass in the building.

8. High on the to-do list

The Resch Center installed a new four-sided scoreboard with top and bottom LED rings as well as two auxiliary scoreboards in 2015. The $1.6 million improvement, along with an upgraded control room, was necessary to keep the arena competitive with other venues in the areas. All of the sound baffles on the ceiling have also been replaced.

9. Odd couples

There was no telling who Toby Keith might bring along on tour during his Resch Center heyday. It was Willie Nelson in 2003, Ted Nugent in 2005, Joe Nichols in 2006, Jack Ingram in 2009 and 3 Doors Down in 2017.

10. In memoriam

Among the big acts who have played the Resch Center and since passed away: Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen, Ray Charles, Merle Haggard, Glenn Frey of the Eagles, Coolio, Kenny Rogers, Naomi Judd of The Judds, Eddie Money, Dusty Hill of ZZ Top and Graeme Edge of the Moody Blues.

11. The back-to-back nights club

It's an exclusive group of artists who have played two consecutive nights at the Resch Center:

• Tim McGraw, 2004

• Kenny Chesney, 2005

• Toby Keith, 2005 and 2006

• Keith Urban, 2007

• Eric Church, 2019 and 2022

• Luke Combs, 2022

12. A presidential past

The building can count three American presidents among its visitors. President George W. Bush made a campaign stop in 2004 that included entertainment by Wayne Newton, Dennis Miller and local band The X-Rays. He was Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and running for president when he held a campaign rally there in 2008. President Donald Trump made a campaign stop in 2019 — his second visit, after appearing as part of a publicity stunt for WWE's “Monday Night RAW” at the arena in 2009.

13. ‘I’m Still Standing’

The crowd of 10,414 Elton John played to in 2003 still stands as the largest in Resch Center history.

14. Come on in

The public got its first look at the Resch Center on Aug. 25, 2002, during an open house that, for reasons unknown, was Hawaiian-themed. Visitors could nose around in dressing rooms and suites, sign a giant card and listen to the music of South Pacific Sounds. Randy Peterson and inflatable games entertained kids, the Allouez Village Band played the national anthem at the ribbon cutting, and the Green Bay Gamblers' new mascot, Gus, made his debut.

15. A few ins and outs

There were 300 doors in the Resch Center when it opened. With opening of the $93 million Resch Expo next door in 2021, some of the doors that once opened to the exterior now open into the adjoining convention center. Several new doors have also been added to connect the two buildings.

16. The one that got away

Kristie Haney, vice president of events and booking for PMI Entertainment Group, which manages the Resch Complex, worked for five years to get Foo Fighters to play the Resch Center. In 2020, it finally happened — almost.

Green Bay landed one of 10 stops on the band’s The Van Tour and was the first date to sell out (in less than an hour). Then came the upheaval of the pandemic with its endless reschedules and cancellations, and the date was ultimately scrapped.

Haney still has the tour poster with the Resch Center date listed on it hanging in her office. “I call it the greatest show that never happened,” she said.

17. Grab your buns

When you’re in Wisconsin, meat matters. Cher-Make was named “the official sausage of the Resch Center" when the building opened. In August, PMI announced Pelkin’s Smokey Meat Market, with locations in Crivitz and Suamico, as "the official hot dogs, brats and beef snacks" for the Resch Center and Resch Expo.

18. Animal attraction

Not all the stars who have performed at the Resch Center arrived by tour bus or private jet. The building has welcomed its share of animals, too.

There were camels, sheep and a donkey onstage for the elaborate “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” in 2008. When Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performed for five days in the first month the Resch Center opened, it was still traveling with elephants. And who could forget Harry, billed as “The World’s Strongest Chicken." The cape-wearing rooster did a press conference in 2010 in the Resch lobby (complete with the “Rocky” theme and bodyguards) to promote his appearance at the All Star Rodeo Challenge, where he pulled his human trainer in a chicken chariot.

19. Show me the money

Country singer Morgan Wallen’s sold-out concert on April 28, a stop on his red-hot The Dangerous Tour, is the highest-grossing concert in Resch Center history.

20. A 20th anniversary refresh

PMI is working to re-imagine some of the spaces in the concourse to give visitors new experiences. The Bud Light Lounge on the second level will be one of the areas to be transformed.

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Contact Kendra Meinert at 920-431-8347 or kmeinert@greenbay.gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @KendraMeinert

This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: 20 fun things to know about Resch Center for its 20th anniversary