SHEBOYGAN COUNTY — Work continues at Whistling Straits for the 43rd Ryder Cup, even though the global golf event wrapped up a month ago in Sheboygan County. A crew of about 80 workers with Oak Creek-based Arena Americas is disassembling the massive, temporary infrastructure that turned a golf course into a stadium for more than 40,000 fans.
Niall Gaffney was the company’s head man on site. “It's not the same,” he said of breaking down. “It's fun seeing everything going up. It's more disappointing seeing everything going down.”
Not that his crew isn’t trying to make quick work of it. “The guys want to get out of here. Some of the guys have been here since May 24. So, they've had enough. They've taken some vacation, don't get me wrong, but the guys have spent a lot of time here, and they're ready for it to be over.”
What took nearly four months to build, should come down in half the time. Gaffney hopes to have things wrapped up before winter settles in. “We are literally trying to beat the snow,” he admitted. “But you just never know when it's going to arrive.”
Slowing the process is the fact that whatever the crew can recycle or reuse, they will. “Carpet and the mesh is probably the two things we can't really recycle. It's very difficult to recycle those items because they take such wear and tear during the event. Everything else, it's just going to move on to the next job,” Gaffney said.
That next job, for much of the material, is Tulsa, Oklahoma and the host site of golf’s PGA Championship in spring. Other pieces will be warehoused at company headquarters in Oak Creek. It’s a lot of pieces. Gaffney estimates 1.2 million square feet of flooring and 600,000 square feet of tenting. It’s one of the biggest jobs the company has ever done.
A native of Ireland, Gaffney did offer one thing that, from his perspective, didn’t go as well as he’d have liked. “Well, Europe lost, obviously,” he laughed. “You guys (the American team) were amazing. The players were amazing, I thought. The rookies were amazing. So disappointed. I just wanted it to be more competitive on the Sunday. I'm a golfer. I'm a big fan. I just wanted it to be a better match, but you guys were incredible.”