Welcome to episode 154 of Traveling with Tom. This week we find ourselves in northeastern Wisconsin in beautiful Door County, the Cape Cod of the Midwest. Since I had a teaching gig in Green Bay, we decided to make a day of it and visit a shrine of sorts, Lambeau Field, the home of our beloved Green Bay Packers football team. As long as I can remember, I’ve been a Packer fan mostly because my Dad was one. Although not much of a sports enthusiast, he identified with the Packers because they represented the common man; the salt of the earth, hard working guys then coached by a man driven by strong principles and values, Vince Lombardi. Since moving to Wisconsin that bond for me has become even stronger, a Packer Backer to the core, much to the chagrin of some of our friends and family that are Minnesota Vikings fans. All in good fun, I guess, it’s only a game, they (not sure who) say. Trivia question: How many Super Bowls have the Minnesota Vikings won? (Answer at the end of this post).
My training session was done by noon so we went directly over to Lambeau Field for some lunch at the very nice 1919 club and to check out the stadium tour possibilities.
We decided to take the 90 minute Champions Tour and also purchased tickets to see the Packers Hall of Fame.
After a nice lunch we headed down to the Packers Pro Shop where anything and everything with a Packers logo can be purchased. I have to tell you, it was overwhelming, the store is huge but also fun to look at all the possibilities of gear to wear to a game, watch a game, to work, to school, and even to church on football Sunday! While my traveling partner was shopping around, I entertained myself by taking photos of the old Chevy pickup painted the Packer colors, green and gold.
Please allow me to back up a bit, I’ve gotten ahead of myself with all the excitement of being at the temple of our team. When we turn off Lombardi Avenue into the Atrium parking lot, two bigger than life statues greet us. The first is of Curly Lambeau, one of the cofounders of the Packers in 1919. Curly graduated from Green Bay East High School in 1917 where he was a standout football player. In 1918 he attended Notre Dame and played football for the famous Knute Rockne. He returned home for the Christmas holidays and contracted a severe case of tonsillitis that prevented him from returning to school for the spring semester. After his recovery, he got a job at the Indian Packing Company. He really missed playing football and after a chance meeting with the sports editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, they decided to organize a city football team. Lambeau secured the sponsorship of his employer for the season and the Packers were born. They dominated play for the first two season and joined the fledgling NFL in 1921 and as they say, the rest is history! Trivia question: What two NFL teams have a longer history than the Packers? (Answer at the end of this post).
And the second statue is of Vince Lombardi, the legendry coach of the Packers from 1959-1968. He led the Packers three straight and five NFL championships in seven years. He also won the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967. After his death in 1970, the Super Bowl trophy was named after him.
After worshipping at the feet of these immortal figures, we entered the Atrium, the five story main entrance to Lambeau Field.
After many years of playing at City Stadium (seating 25,000 fans) at Green Bay East High School, the Packers moved to it’s current site in 1957 and dubbed it the “New” City Stadium. The new stadium seated 32,000 fans. After the success of the Lombardi era, demand for tickets grew so more seats and luxury boxes were added soon reaching 56,000 seats. In the 1990’s free agency greatly increased the salary of players and the Packers found themselves in financial trouble. The vision of then president Bob Harlan saw that Packer fans wanted more of an experience so he created a plan to make Lambeau Field a destination for more than 10 or so games the Packers play at Lambeau each year. The stadium now holds over 80,000 fans and is open for business 363 days a year, closed on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.
Our tour of Lambeau Field led by Rich started out at the stories tall replica of the Lombardi Trophy.
He took us to see some of the luxury boxes as well as the highest point at the south end zone. In addition, he shared history and stories of the field and the Packers. Here are some of the photos from that viewpoint.
And we had to take our obligatory photos from this vantage point.
On the tour I took tons of photos of the field. We’ve been to a few games and I could hear the roar of the crowd when the team made a touchdown.
Another stop on our tour took us through the tunnel where the Packers run on to the field. As we were progressing past the locker room to the tunnel, we came across this sign indicating that either a coach or player interview was underway.
As we left the tunnel and onto the field, Rich shared with us some of the traditions of the Packer players. One is to touch the granite placard as a sign of good luck and remind current players of whence they came.
This what it looks like running out of the tunnel onto the field.
Being on the field was exciting. Again took lots of photos. There was even game highlights playing on the south end jumbo screen.
We also had our photos taken on the field, our tour guide suggested they could be on our Christmas cards this year. Maybe!
As we left the field, I looked back and saw this photo op through the goal posts.
On the way back to the Atrium, we passed through the bowels of the stadium, here’s what it looks like without the crush of fans.
After the very excellent tour, we spent the next couple of hours making our way through the Packers Hall of Fame.
There we saw some of the actual gear from current players as well as some of the historical artifacts.
I had to take a photo of the Brett Farve exhibit, he was dead to me for awhile after he went to the Vikings. But he’s gradually came back to life, I too can forgive poor judgement on his part!
Did you know that the Packers are the only sports franchise owned by the community? Early on, in order to have funds to field a team, stock was sold to local fans. There were later attempts to buy back that stock but the community prevailed, there are now 360,000 stockholders, one of which is my daughter. Her husband, a Dallas Cowboys fan, purchased a share of stock for a Christmas present. So after games where they don’t do so well, I’ll often let her know that as an owner she should have words with the coach!
It’s interesting to note that the Packers are also in the smallest market of any sports franchise. The current population of Green Bay is just over 104,000 people. This wouldn’t happen in during current times so what a legacy Curly Lambeau started way back when! Trivia question 3: How many people are currently on the list to purchase season tickets to the Packer games? Bonus 4: About how many people give up their tickets each year? Bonus 5: About how many names come off the waiting list each year?
Here are a few more scenes from the Hall of Fame including a photo of the most recent Lombardi Trophy won at the 2010 Super Bowl. Trivia question 6: How many Super Bowls have the Packers won? Trivia question 7: How many Super Bowls have the Packers appeared in? Trivia question 8: How many NFL championships have the Packers won in their history? (See answer at the end of this post).
I’ll bet that you didn’t know that my name is in the Packers Hall of Fame. Ok, it’s my name but not me but does give me just a little bragging rights!
My favorite part of the Hall of Fame was the area dedicated to the infamous Ice Bowl played in Green Bay against the Dallas Cowboys on December 31, 1967. The highlights of this game were shown on a big screen while viewers sat on bleachers. The temperature at game time was between 13 and 15 degree below zero Fahrenheit. I vaguely remember watching this game on the small black and white tv we had at the time. It was that day that quarterback Bart Starr and receiver Boyd Dowler became legends in Packer history. Dowler for making a number of receptions and Starr for the quarterback sneak that won the game with time expiring. Even though I’ve seen the highlights many times, I still cheered when he went over the goal line.
As we left the stadium, we stopped to admire the newly repainted statue dedicated to Packer fans. We had a nice chat with the guy that was doing the painting, he said get a regular retouch as it’s very popular with fans. I can see why.
We had a great time at Lambeau Field something we won’t forget for awhile. As we were driving away I stopped to shoot a photo of the Don Hutson practice center and one last look at the field.
Hope you enjoyed our stop at Lambeau Field as much as we did. If you are a Packer fan, it’s a must stop and I know fans of other teams will also enjoy the experience.
Until next week, travel safe.
Answer to trivia questions.
- The Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals.
- 110,000! More than the population of Green Bay!
- 20, each new ticket holder is entitled up to 4 tickets.
- Four: 1966, 1967, 1997, and 2011.
- Five. They lost in 1998 to the Denver Broncos.