This football season, Packers fans will have the opportunity to stay overnight at the brand-new Lodge Kohler, drink local beer at the Hinterland Restaurant and Brewery and then hit a 300-foot sledding hill in Green Bay’s new Titletown District, located right around the corner from Lambeau Field.
And if some combination of those activities leads to an injury, Titletown will also have a state-of-the-art sports medicine clinic in the area to patch you back together before kickoff.
Titletown is the Packers’ 35-acre, $130 million development located just west of Lambeau Field, designed with the goal to drive more business in Green Bay aside from the 10 preseason and regular-season home games. And on July 25, the Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine and Orthopedics clinic will open right in the heart of the area. The 52,000-square foot clinic is expected to be a go-to not just for the hometown Packers, but also any professional athlete across the country who needs his or her foot operated on.
Not only is Green Bay gaining a world-class facility; it’s also getting a star orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Robert Anderson—who has taken care of the likes of Derek Jeter, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Cam Newton—will be joining his medical-school friend, long-time Packers team doctor Pat McKenzie, in working out of the facility’s new practice and serving as an assistant on the Green Bay medical team. In the sports medicine world, Bellin signing Anderson, 60, is like Denver inking free-agent quarterback Peyton Manning. Nearly every star athlete with a foot or ankle injury in the past 10-plus years has received care from Dr. Bob at his old practice, OrthoCarolina, located in Charlotte.
Anderson served as an assistant team doctor for the Carolina Panthers for 18 years and decided this off-season to “retire” from the team. At the same time, the Titletown opportunity presented itself, and Anderson saw a chance to return to his native Wisconsin and join McKenzie.
“I’ve been helping Pat with foot and ankle injuries that have occurred with the Green Bay Packers for the last 25–26 years,” Anderson said, “so the difference now is that I’m going to be across the street and I can help him without the players having to fly down to Charlotte.”
McKenzie, 60, said Anderson’s opinion is so often requested and revered there that Packers coaches will ask “what’s our foot guy say?”
The two doctors met at Medical College of Wisconsin, where they graduated together in 1983. Their professional relationship took off in the early ’90s when McKenzie asked for Anderson’s help in diagnosing what was ailing one of Green Bay’s top receivers. Neither man would divulge the player, but it was likely Sterling Sharpe who had a reported turf toe injury in 1993. The following season he turned in a Pro Bowl year.
Since then, McKenzie has entrenched himself as the trusted Packers’ doc while Anderson has become the preeminent foot and ankle sports doctor in the country, sometimes even confused for Dr. James Andrews, the famed orthopedic surgeon for star athletes.
“I think it’s not only a great thing for the Green Bay Packers, it’s a tremendous asset to our community,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters last month. “Dr. Anderson is the best in the business. Every foot, ankle injury conversation that I’ve been a part of as a head coach, his name always comes up. And it’s been that way for 20 years, in my 20-plus years in the National Football League. So, having Dr. Anderson in our community is outstanding. I’m thrilled that Bellin and Dr. McKenzie and Dr. Anderson, what they’re developing here with Titletown Orthopedics.”
Doctors James Ebben, James Spears and Gil Freeman will also join the long-time friends at the clinic. And McKenzie promises that if you have a hand injury, you’ll see the doctor who specializes in hands. The same doctor who operated on a hip yesterday won’t be on an ankle the next day.
There may seem to be one obvious obstacle to this facility succeeding, though. Certainly it will be a boon to the local economy and enhance the medical care for the Packers, but getting to Green Bay isn’t the easiest place to get to, especially in the colder months.
“I said, ‘Bob if I can help you understand something, all the athletes from all over the country that come to see you are not coming because Charlotte has a nice airport. They’re coming because you’re a really good doctor and you know what you’re doing,’” McKenzie said. “And Green Bay, when you think of the ease of traffic, the airport is a 12-minute drive. When you talk about driving an hour or 45 minutes in a big city, we don’t have that. There’s no traffic. Now you may have to spend a half hour in Detroit or Minneapolis if you transfer, but that’s all it is. And private travel is big in this day and age, and we have a phenomenal FBO (fixed-base operator) and private air system that comes into Green Bay.”
The clinic has also set up a VIP/concierge service with the hotel next door, so someone coming in for surgery can stay there the night before and after surgery. As one prominent agent told Anderson, “Doc, we know how to get to Green Bay. You don’t have to worry about it.”
This is a joining of forces at a state-of-the-art facility for two doctors who used to play hooky from anatomy lab to play basketball. Both have been so consumed with their day jobs that now they get the opportunity not only to work together, but also to take care of the normal athlete that they got in the business to care for in the first place.
“It’s going to be the same whether the guy is a professional athlete from New York, a professional athlete that plays for the Green Bay Packers or a high school athlete who plays at Wausau West High,” McKenzie said. “All of them are going to get the same care from the exact same guys.”