Leaving Door County, Wisconsin, we journeyed to Green Bay to tour historic Lambeau Field, named for Curly Lambeau, the first captain and later head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
With the start of what might possibly, hopefully, maybe be a non-Covid compromised season of NFL action, football fever is gripping our RV and both of its inhabitants! Our Fantasy Football league draft is in a week, and we were hoping the tour would give a chance to sneak a peek at the coaches’ secret book of plays, which surely is left just laying open somewhere in the facility, right?
Green Bay is one of the largest towns in Wisconsin, but still relatively small to most major cities, with just over 100,000 residents. In fact, they are the smallest city in the U.S. to have a professional sports team! Of course, I am referring to the Green Bay Packers, who hold the record for all-time NFL Championships.
Packers fever grips most of Wisconsin, but particularly Green Bay. The insanity known as “the waiting list for Packers season tickets,” in place since 1960, is currently above 140,000. Most years only around 750 tickets change hands, so you could get on the waitlist on the day you are born and die at 100 years old, still not having received that magical call to take your rock-hard, backless, 18″ wide seat on the freezing cold bleachers.
The Packers are well-known for now being “owned” by their fan base, and are the only non-profit, community-owned US professional sports team. At various times in team history, they have been on the verge of going broke and have sold ownership shares in the team. The first shares went for $5! They do not pay dividends and are basically just a fancy piece of paper to hang on your wall and impress your friends. If your friends are particularly difficult to impress, how about a $10,000 Swarovski-crystal covered helmet instead?
“Packers” is an unusual team name, relating neither to a fearsome animal (Jaguars), local legend (Cowboys), scary enigma (Raiders), or …uhhh….. a “nothing” (Washington Football Team). It harkens back to the earlier days of the team, when the Indian Packing Company and then the Acme Packing Company agreed to infuse cash into the program in exchange for naming rights.
Our super-fun, behind-the-scenes tour of Lambeau Field let us go above, below, under and through all areas of the stadium over two hours.
Up above, we practiced the mandatory “GO PACK GO” chant, listening to our voices echoing around the mostly- empty stadium! What a thrill!
Here’s a cub reporter hard at work in the press box, where they are not allowed to eat or drink anything! Luckily, there is a full service dining room just down the hall. Did you know that these days, when they “call upstairs” for a replay, they are really calling NFL headquarters in New York?
This is the visitors’ locker room, shockingly fresh-smelling after a game just the day before. One of the cleaning staff had just found a diamond stud earring while cleaning out a stall! Can you say “finders/keepers”?
Did you know there is a TSA agent stationed right inside the visitors’ locker room during games to process all the players so the plane can take off ASAP after the game? How’s that for service … and how’s that for a dream job! “Hang out inside a NFL Team locker room and process a little paperwork” – easiest job ever? I think yes!
During its most recent renovation, Lambeau Field added over 140 gorgeous works of art throughout Lambeau, depicting the team and its history. That history includes the toughest fans in the league, who regularly endure ridiculously cold weather in their outdoor stadium, including the 1967 game known as the “Ice Bowl,” which served up temperatures of -13 degrees (-36 wind chill). Could you take it?
If you’re not into cold, you can get on the long list to someday reserve a corporate suite. Only $190,000 per suite — food and drinks extra! You’re not even allowed to bring your own food in. If you have a special recipe for Aunt Edna’s 8-cheese Macaroni and Cheese that you want to enjoy during the game, the best you can do is give the recipe to the Packers people and they will do their best to prepare it for you. But at least you’re inside!
We even got to trot through the tunnel, where piped in crowd-cheering noise simulated what the real players hear. Inside the tunnel, there is a patch of bricks in the pavement that has never been replaced, allowing current players to cross over the same sacred ground as previous legendary Packers players. Here’s the view looking outward.
Although the Packers are an “old” team (third oldest in the NFL – since 1919), they are not the “oldest” … that honor belongs to to their arch-enemy team in second place (Chicago Bears – 1920), as well as our beloved Arizona Cardinals, in the top spot with founding date in 1898!
Finally down on the field itself, we were carefully watched by the grass police to ensure we didn’t drop even a hangnail onto their precious turf, which is heated and fertilized and plugged and massaged and sung to daily.
Wisconsin’s outstanding bike trails continue to impress, even here in the “big city” of Green Bay. This particular section of the Fox River Trail, from Green Bay to DePere, includes artwork like this crane sculpture. We admired it trailside … THEN noticed the name of the piece … THEN noticed the fine detail … yup, it’s called “Frog For Dinner!”
Besides trailside statues, Green Bay and surrounding towns like DePere are also known for their beautiful mural artwork.
Of course, being Wisconsin, it’s still cheese-cheese-cheese, and my doctor is going to have a fit when we get our cholesterol tested when we get home. But with super-squeaky, made-an-hour-ago-by-those-guys-through-the-window fresh cheese curds in flavors like tomato basil and dill garlic, at 4th-generation family-owned artisan cheese house Scray Cheese in the farm fields outside DePere, who could resist? (Sorry, Dr. Clark!)
The weather here in Wisconsin changes on a dime, but soggy grassy and fluctuating temps could not deter us from being outside as much as possible. With wood-fired pizza and outdoor patios at nearly every microbrewery, outdoor concerts by up-and-coming bands in small town parks, and spectacular sunsets rivaling those we vaguely remember from Arizona, we are trying to get as much of this Midwest magic under our skin as possible during our last two weeks here!
Goodbye Green Bay, thanks for the memories and for scratching our NFL itch with your beautiful stadium!