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How is it possible that the country’s smallest major pro sports market is arguably its most popular and frequently visited? A rich tradition of football at its earliest stages and a quaint small-town to call home have much to do with this answer.
Out of Curly Lambeau’s return due to injury from a brief stint at Notre Dame where he participated valiantly for the Fighting Irish under legendary coach Knute Rockne, the Green Bay Packers began their journey in 1919.
The Green Bay Packers were born as a result of a conversation between Curly Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun, a sports editor of the Green Bay Post-Gazette. Curly Lambeau’s employer, Indian Packing Company, gave $500 for uniforms and equipment on the condition the team was named the Green Bay Packers.
The team took the field at various home gridirons in Green Bay and throughout Wisconsin. In 1957, the team moved into City Field which was later renamed Lambeau Field in 1966. After multiple expansions which largely were confined to adding additional seats, major renovations were made in 2003. These renovations were necessary to remain financially competitive by NFL standards and exceeded expectations.
Lambeau Field is a unique blend of modern technology and desired comforts with a respectful nod and tender embrace to the rich history of a nearly century-old franchise. As you watch the Packers from your seat, you will be amazed at how seemingly untouched the main seating bowl and surroundings are to the stadium’s early days.
Lambeau Field remains the tallest building in this small town, population 102,726. The surrounding Brown County contains 218,149 residents. It is far and away the smallest market of the four major sports, but the size of the market it calls home isn’t the only unique element of this team.
No other sports franchise is owned by the fans and there are currently about 150,000 shareholders of the team. Recent stock offerings have funded the renovations to this pigskin cathedral. In these offerings, no shareholder can own more than 200 shares and although there is no benefit in the form of dividend or distribution, one can say they own a professional sports franchise.
Most shareholders display proof of their prized ownership-stake, a stock certificate, typically framed and in full view hung on the walls of their homes or offices. Photos of the original and second stock certificates are shown in the photo gallery.
The aura of the market and the role it plays in pro football hits you when you land at Green Bay’s airport. You are welcomed with a large sign facing the runway which signals Titletown USA, a tagline given the Packers after securing five titles in seven years from 1961 through 1967.
If you arrive in winter, the ground might be frozen, but likely not as frozen as the ground was during it was on December 31, 1967 for the NFL Championship game. In what is known as “The Ice Bowl”, the Packers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 on a late touchdown by Bart Starr. The game was more known for its cold game-time temperature of minus 26 Fahrenheit with a wind chill of minus 44 Fahrenheit.
Since that game, the Lambeau Field gridiron has been known as “The Frozen Tundra”. Other spin-offs since then include Tundra-Vision for the dual scoreboards located in the end zone and a one-of-a-kind rally towel only available at the corner of Holmgren Way and Armed Forces Way just west of the stadium on game day.
It’s Claytime concession stand (owned by Ryan Waterstreet) exclusively sells the “Tundra Towel” and bears the slogan “The Cold Can Not Contain Us”, an important part of the home field advantage in Green Bay. At $12, it’s a nice piece of Lambeau lore to cheer with at the game and take home with you to remember the experience.
During the early part of the football season, the temperature range is a high of 71 and a low of 49, but as the season wears on, the December games have a range of a 30 high and a 15 low. Average snowfall in Green Bay is 47 inches for the year, 17 of them coming in the last two months of the regular season. If the home season stretches into January, you can tack on another 14 inches.
Still, there is good news if you arrive several days early before a game and it snows. You might be asked to shovel snow out of the seating area. Dress warm, bring rugged winter wear and you will be handed a shovel and paid $9.00 an hour. Workers shovel snow to the walkways where a chute allows it to slide down to the field. Now how cool would that be just to say you did it?
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Inside the stadium, consider eating at Curly's, a large sit-down restaurant on the second floor of the Atrium area just inside the Miller Lite Gate, north end of the stadium complex. Curly's provides plenty of references to Mr. Lambeau and the many players and characters who have made Packer football worth enjoying.
You will find plenty of televisions, a large bar area, plenty of seats to accommodate large crowds and an interactive game area. You will also find a row of windows along the east side of the restaurant which overlooks the players entering the stadium and plenty of tailgaters which make the experience so enjoyable. If dining early on game day, notice the steady hue of cooking smoke which forms a sensory blanket just ten feet above the parking lot. It is a very telling scene.
The food is fantastic at Curly's and a few things are worth ordering on your first visit. Consider the bratwurst and beer cheddar chowder (bowl for $5.50, cup for $3.50) and the Hall of Fame friend cheese curds ($8.50). After your stomach gets pumped, follow it up with one of their famous pot pies, often found as a daily special.
Those with an adventurous appetite can test their skills with the "Fan vs. Food" Combo. Anyone who eats The Lambeau Heap, a one-pound BBQ bacon curd burger with fried onion stings, and an order of waffle fries and a milkshake will receive a T-shirt that reads "I survived the Lambeau Heap". Order the combo for $20 or just the burger for $15.
Regular hours are Sunday through Thursday from 11AM to 10PM and Friday and Saturday from 11AM to midnight. Food is served until 10 PM each night. On game days, Curly's opens at 8AM for noon games, 11AM for games which begin at 3PM to 5:30PM and Noon for games which begin at 6PM or later.
Also in the Atrium is the Leine Lodge, across the way from Curly's on the third level. There you will find a wide array of suds from this Wisconsin-based brewer. Large tables in the shape of barbeque pits are there for you to set your food and drink while standing and admiring the beautiful view to the indoor plaza. Also on that level, you will find an ice cream parlor and a sandwich shop.
As you consider picking-up some items to take to your seat, there is much to choose from. As with most venues, the main concourse level typically offers the most variety. So if you have seats in the upper levels, consider making your choices on the main concourse before heading to your seat.
Prices are typical for NFL venues, but not as high as many of the other pro stadiums charge. This was a good sign and yet another example where the Packers understand it is good to make a fair profit, but not gouge their loyal fans.
Coke products are served with large fountain sodas at $6.25, a slightly smaller souvenir soda cup at $5.75 and a regular size soda at $4.25. Bottled soda is $5 and bottled water is $4. A thermal souvenir cup filled with hot chocolate or coffee is $7 with a regular hot beverage cup offered for $3.
For beer lovers, Miller is the primary brand here at $7.50 for draft or aluminum pint. However, there are many other alcoholic beverage choices largely at dedicated beer stands along the concourse. These include Pabst, Budweiser, Coors and Hamm's for $6. Leine Honey Weiss, Leine Classic Amber, Blue Moon, Corona, Spotted Cow, Stella Artois, Heineken and Redbridge are $6.50. Mike's Hard Lemonade is available for $7 and Hinterland and Pilsner Urquell are $8.
For non-alcoholic choices, Sharps is available for $4.
For food items, a jumbo bratwurst is $9 while a jumbo hot dog is $8. Other regular food items include chicken fingers with fries for $8, a cheeseburger for $6.50 and regular size bratwurst and hot dogs for $6 and $5.50 respectively. A personal pan pizza, cheese or pepperoni is available for $6.
Snacks include cheese curds for $6, nachos with cheese for $5, waffle fries with cheese for $5 and regular waffle fries for $3.75. A souvenir popcorn bucket is available for $6 while boxed popcorn for $4.50. A hot pretzel with cheese is $5.50, bag of peanuts for $4, beefsticks for $4, a cookie for $3.50 and chips for $2.50.
A little known fact to visitors is the secret stadium sauce which most fans cover their bratwursts and sausages with while at a Packers (or Brewers games for that matter). The "secret" sauce came about after the concessionaire ran short on condiments at a Brewers game in the 1970s. The combination of what they could come up with ended up being what is known as "Secret Stadium Sauce". If you like it that much, visit a local grocery store and pick-up a bottle. I bought six bottles at Woodman's, a regional chain open 24 hours a day. It is priceless.
Now for the part where you want to notify your primary care physician of what you might be consuming and move to identify where the nearest defibrillators are inside Lambeau Field (by the way, first aid stations are outside section 133 and 328).
To set the stage, though, prior to the 2012 season, Delaware North Companies, a prominent concessionaire in sports venues throughout North America, assumed the contract for Lambeau Field. In wanting to make a splash (a cheese splash at that), they came up with a new creation, known as Pac 'N Cheese. Offered in four varieties, chili mac, brat mac, buffalo chicken mac and regular mac and cheese, all are made with local cheeses. There will be two kiosks in the 100 level selling the Pac 'N Cheese. A portion served in a souvenir cup is $12 while a regular serving is $8. A bratwurst topped with Pac 'N Cheese is $7.50.
But wait, there is more, much more. Also new in 2012 is the Wisconsin Nachos which are waffle fries smothered in cheese, sour cream, bacon and green onions for $10. If these items are too dense or messy, then try the Big Brat, a foot long brat with sauerkraut for $9. Whatever you eat, remember to grab extra napkins and antacids.
As an aside, one interesting note I found amusing was that if you are looking for a drinking fountain, these are only available in the Atrium. Why? Because the climate is typically too cold to keep them functioning outside in the concourse, just another quirky feature recognizing just how the climate plays even a little role in the venue's offerings.
My good friend, Paul Scozzafave from Xionia, Wisconsin, once told me that Fall represents the start of two things in Wisconsin. The first is football season and the second is when Wisconsinites start putting on their Winter Fat. Now I know what he means by that second statement. A trip to Lambeau Field will help you start putting on your Winter Fat.
Of all the NFL stadiums to enjoy the intense buildup leading to kickoff, there is no greater blend of tradition and excitement than Lambeau Field. There is so much to take in on your visit that my advice is to plan for a trip lasting several days and plan to pack in lots of fantastic stuff.
On game day though, if you intend to enjoy the atmosphere without tailgating in the Lambeau parking lot, consider starting early to park along the street for free. It will save you about $20 and allow you to roam and sample the many options around the stadium. More details on this later.
For purposes of this description of where to find things, think of the face of a wall clock as you view the field from above. Lambeau Field runs pretty much north to south from one end zone to the other with a slight adjustment. Consider the center point of the northernmost end zone would be at about 11 o'clock and the opposite center point of the end zone would be about 5 o'clock. The stadium and field sit a little off from true North.
The perimeter of the stadium features parking lots for tailgating. Lots 1, 2 and 3 are on the east side, lot 4 on the north side, lots 5, 6 and 7 on the west side and lots 8 and 9 to the south. Lot 13 is across Oneida Street from lot 1 on the east side and lots 12 and 11 are across Ridge Avenue from lots 5 and 6 respectively. These four lots are the only parking lots outside the plot of land where Lambeau Field sits.
On the perimeter of the complex at the North end just outside the Atrium, you will find two dominating statues atop their own pedestals one-hundred feet apart of one another. Curly Lambeau stands to the West with a look of intensity, holding a football in his left-hand while pointing toward Vince Lombardi with his right hand and looking East. Lombardi stands with an evaluator look as if he was peering from the sidelines observing the calm before the snap of a fourth and one play. His hands are clenched behind his back and he is wearing his trademark top coat and fedora.
The two statues are the epicenter for fans to take photos and it is very common leading up to game day for wedding parties to pose for photos as part of the reception experience. While in this area, appreciate the carefully tailored landscaping which sets off the plaza leading to the Packers Pro Shop, Hall of Fame and Atrium.
To make your way inside Lambeau Field, there are six gates. In the same way the parking lots are described starting in the southeast corner of the complex, there is the Oneida Nation Gate, the main Miller Lite Gate in the northeast corner allowing entrance to the Atrium, Bellin Health Gate to the north, Verizon Gate to the northeast, Associated Bank Gate to the west and Mills Fleet Farm Gate to the southwest.
Of all the entry gates, perhaps the most majestic is the Miller Lite gate which serves as the Lambeau Field Atrium. This allows access to the many activities, culinary offerings, merchandise choices and Packer Hall of Fame. It also provides indoor escalator and elevator access to the higher levels to reach Curly's and Leine Lodge.
Concourse width and flow to seating area and surrounding areas of interest are wide and provide appropriate flow and space to roam. There are many short ledges which serve as just enough table top to set your food and drink while standing and eating before moving on, just another simple touch which means so much to fans.
As you walk around the main concourse, consider the row of supports nearest the seating area represent the original perimeter of the stadium. Large wooden gates on hinges opened the venue to fans upon entry until a renovation several decades ago. The walls are covered with branded slogans leading to the seating area and very many historic references to the players and characters who make Green Bay Packers football great.
Section 105 points due north while section 132 points due south. The bowl is entirely enclosed providing no view of the areas outside the stadium. Truthfully, though, with Lambeau Field being the tallest building in Green Bay and situated in a largely residential area, what kind of view would one expect but homes and streets?
Unless you are seated in the luxury box areas, you will be completely exposed to the elements, whatever they may be, depending upon the time of year. Embrace this and accept it for this is what makes football in these parts unique.
In attending games through the country over the years, I once attended a game at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo for an early December game. A blizzard was rolling in with wind and cold and it is possible I have never been colder. Upon telling a friend how enjoyable the game was despite this, he was shocked and thought it would be miserable. Consider, why would anyone want to attend a Bills game (or for that matter any event) in conditions other than which the experience is known? I advise experiencing Lambeau in the latter half of the season.
As you determine where to sit, please be very aware of one thing. Choose your tickets wisely and DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT purchase tickets for seats in either the north end zone or east sideline for Noon games. It will be the most painful regret you have if you do.
Seats in this area for games which begin at Noon provide you a great view of the sun, will challenge you to enjoy your visit to Lambeau and cause you to have arm stiffness from raising your hand to help in blocking the sun from your vision. Even if you have to pay more for tickets in either the south end zone or west sideline, do it. It is the best thing you can take away from this review.
For games which begin after 3:00 PM, you should be all right although during the early part of the game and depending on the time of year, the sun could be a problem in the north end zone and east sideline for part of the game.
The best seats at Lambeau Field are west sideline between the 25 yard lines at row 20 or higher. These seats are directly behind the Packers sideline and provide great views of both video boards in the end zones. The sightlines are perfect, provide no obstructions and allow a full view of all you want to see at a game.
Consider that from the west sideline, the Packers enter the field across the way to your right in the southeast corner of the end zone. Also to your right, but directly behind the end zone, the visiting team enters the field before taking their place across the field from your seat to their sideline (south side).
The important thing is that the sun falls behind your right shoulder, completely out of play so that you might enjoy the action as the sun illuminates the green and gold uniforms of the home team. From the west side of the field, you can also read the famed "G" logo legibly. Sit along the east sideline and you are looking at the #9 (try it, look at it upside down), another reason to avoid the east sideline.
No matter where you sit at Lambeau Field, know the pitch in the rows within the seating areas is fantastic. You can see everything and you feel so close to the Packer faithful. In that it was built a long time ago, building codes allowed for a structure which allowed for a steeper pitch in the risers, another fantastic reason to keep the original bowl intact.
For the price of one admission, you rent a part of a long bench. Specifically, you get a 2" thick piece of metal measuring 18" in width and 10 ¾" in depth. There are no seatbacks or cup holders, though. Still, while that might seem uncomfortable, consider that if you are one of the first 7,000 entering the stadium in need of a chair back, the Packers rent portable seats for $6, a good buy for those with weak backs.
If you want one, you will need to get them an hour before game time or they will likely be sold out. These handy additions rest upon the base of your space and provide comfortable back support. Drop them off on the way out and your back will thank you for it. You can bring your own, but just be sure yours does not include an arm rest.
Keep in mind, the original bowl at Lambeau continues to support the seating areas. Each section includes a continuous series of rows from row 1 to row 50 in the original portion. Entry ways from the main concourse to the seating area put you at row 25. From there, walk down to rows 24 to 1 or turn left or right and head up to rows 26 to 50.
Aisles are relatively narrow and steps require you to be careful as they extend a little further out than your typical step riser. Still, the impression you will get with a full stadium is people packed into a tight space with just enough room to get in and out or up and down. You may end up getting pretty close with your football neighbors, but you will love it.
The front edge of the seating area is closer in proximity to the field than what you will find at most NFL venues. At row 28, it felt like I was right on top of the field. For pre-game practice, fans are allowed to get close to the field even if their tickets are for areas in higher rows.
Behind row 50, there is an aisle walkway providing a continuous walkway around the bowl. Above this walkway are ten rows of seats, rows 51 through 60. On the east side of the stadium, premium seats occupy these sections and are the very few outdoor seats with chair backs.
Private suites surround the stadium except in the south end zone and are inside even though there are sliding glass panels which allow for access to the open air. Premium seats are available only on the east side of the field just below the suites and provide such luxury as servers to take food and beverage orders.
Incidentally, the current 2012 renovation includes 6,500 new bleacher bench seats in the south end zone which will include a "heating" component intended to melt the snow should it become an issue prior to a Winter game.
The playing surface is cared for like the ivy along the outfield wall at Chicago's Wrigley Field. Take a stadium tour and you get to step on it, but only for about 100 feet during your structured visit which restricts your movement to within 10 feet of the sideline and end zone in the southeast corner of the gridiron.
A little background on the surface involves an underground heating and drainage system which was redone in 1997 with a system of pipes filled with a solution including antifreeze replacing the electric coils. After the 2006 season, the surface, heating, and drainage system was replaced. The new grass surface has synthetic fibers woven into the sod.
An artificial lighting system, based on technology used in Dutch rose-growing greenhouses, was tested and then purchased for use in the 2011 season. It operates 24 hours a day from October to early December to extend the growing season for the field's grass.
There are two large scoreboards high atop both end zones providing video replays and regular statistics. The team does a great job of providing the necessary information and not overloading fans with too much information. Above the 60th row on the 50 yard-line opposite each other area are several more options to view the game clock.
The cheerleaders at Lambeau Field are more unique than any in the League. They are the only non-professional cheerleading team in the league. The team currently uses college cheerleading squads, with the UWGB squad (coed) and St. Norbert's (all girls) cheering at each home game.
In keeping with the tradition of Packers football, these performers wear traditional uniforms which evoke an earlier time of sideline entertainment. You will see the cheer squad performing pyramids and acrobatics in both end zones during long breaks in the action. Also, there is also a marching troupe playing drums and percussion at breaks. You will see the Tundra Line during the game on the sidelines and in the end zones.
Upgrades in the sound system over the years provide exceptional sound quality no matter where you view the game. And for those wanting to listen to the game by radio while watching from their seat, tune into WTAQ (1360 AM / 97.5 FM) with a slight delay.
As the tallest building in Green Bay, Lambeau Field sits within a residential area. It is very common to see homeowners from across the street in their decked out property hosting parties from their decks with a view of the stadium.
Additionally, if you do not plan to tailgate from your own car in a parking lot, consider a FREE parking spot on the streets just north of the stadium. You will have to get there about five hours prior to game time, though. For a quick getaway after the game when heading back toward Milwaukee, park along Shadow Lane, one block north of Lombardi Avenue and just east of Oneida Street. Point west and after a few right turns, you will be on the highway avoiding the traffic.
Keep in mind, traffic from Green Bay to Milwaukee post-game is usually only heavy on one of the three "Gold" package game days which are 1st pre-season, 2nd home game or 5th home game. All other games are part of the "Green" package and usually involve less traffic to and from Milwaukee.
If you miss a FREE parking spot on the street, you might be forced to park on someone's lawn for which $20 is the lowest going rate. Other lots in and around the area are about the same price with some charging a little more if you tailgate than if you aren't tailgating even though it is still the same parking lot.
Walks around the stadium areas are very safe and comfortable with a few thoroughfares being closed to vehicular traffic to provide safe passageway for tailgating fans.
There are quite a few notable choices to dine before the game. On the west side of the stadium and across the street is Kroll's West, a restaurant which should be on every human being's bucket list. It is no wonder Wisconsin leads the nation in heart attacks per capita. I overheard a person say, "I might die early, but I am going to have a good time getting there."
This longtime, third-generation vintage diner has operated at this location since 1974, the fourth location since the business began in 1936. All first-time visitors should order the Kroll's double butter burger ($7.15, single is $4.45) with a side of fried cheese curds ($5.75). Wash it down with a bottle of Baumeister Root Beer ($2.50), locally produced since 1907. For dessert, consider one of their famous shakes or malts ($4.50).
Patrons are required to push a button at their table for service. There are private booths and open tables along with a counter with full view of the kitchen in action. Many seats have their own coat racks. Televisions are on throughout the dining areas which offer low-light adding to the peaceful, comfortable environment.
There is also a bar area just to the right when you enter the front door. Be sure and look at the vintage Packers memorabilia when you enter. Kroll's West offers music before the game beginning at 9AM and playing until game time. The band of the day plays a ninety minute set after the game as well.
On the other side of the stadium, Bart Starr Plaza Tailgate Party sits along Armed Force Drive. This outdoor tailgate event takes place three hours prior to game time right in front of the Resch Center. For $25, fans enter to enjoy live entertainment, beer, wine, soda, water, hamburgers, brats, chips, potato salad, pickles and desserts. This is great fun. They also serve a "Go-Dog", the no-mess hot dog. I have only seen this at the Calgary Saddledome while attending a Flames game.
The Bar and The Stadium View are two options just west of the stadium along Holmgren Way at Armed Forces Way, the street is closed to vehicular traffic on game day. Both provide parking at $20 ($25 if you cook there) and ample options for great food and drinks while never missing a piece of the pre-game action.
Just a block behind this row is Brett Favre's Steakhouse. I have eaten there before outside of football season and it is probably a better spot for a non-football outing. The premium setting lends itself to a non-game day experience, one that is not rushed when there is so much outside to do. Food is good, but for the price it is overrated.
If you are looking for tasty Italian food, look no further than Sammy's Pizza, less than a mile south of the stadium at 2161 South Oneida Street. A locally-owned treasure from the Crispigna Family has been going strong since 1958. Their wide array of choices range from sandwiches to pasta, but whatever you do, be sure to order pizza, even if just a small size and consumed as an appetizer.
They are open at 11AM each day until 10PM Sunday through Thursday. They stay open another half hour on Friday and Saturday nights.
If you plan to tailgate and are arriving a day or more prior to game day, consider stopping by Konop's Meats in nearby Stangleville/Denmark, just 25 miles east of Lambeau Field. Located at N 2065 County Road AB in Denmark, brothers John and Mark Konop leave you with culinary offerings of the sausage and brat variety worth sending for once you return home.
Truthfully, there may not be a better place to find such a variety of the area's finest grilling meats. You will have to plan ahead though as they are open weekdays from 8AM to 5PM and Saturdays from 8AM to Noon.
If making it a multi-day trip, consider a drive to Door County for golf, water sports and breathtaking scenery. And since you will have to eat while you are out, let me recommend two great places starting with lunch.
It may not look like much from the outside, but a lunch visit at 60-year old Joe Rouer's Bar in tiny Duvall is a must visit. Located 27 miles east of Lambeau Field at E1098 County Road A (at the intersection of Luxemburg and City Road X), it is essentially a tavern, but the cheeseburgers with onions ($3.00 each) and the root beer served in a large frozen mug are essentials. Cash only and closed on Mondays and Fridays, but open other days from 11AM to 8PM.
After a few hours of sightseeing and maybe a round of golf if it's early in the season, dress up a little and head further north to Sister Bay where you will find an unexpected dining experience. Located just 54 miles from Joe Rouer's Bar or 85 miles north of Lambeau Field, you will find Al Johnston's Swedish Restaurant & Butik. They are also known for a world-class dining experience complete with goats which roam the grassy rooftop while you eat. Al Johnston's is open 6AM to 8PM daily and is located at 10698 North Bay Shore Drive in Sister Bay.
For those who want to see athletes on skates instead of cleats, you can see the Green Bay Gamblers hockey club of the USHL, the top junior circuit in the country and a club which has enjoyed much success in recent years. Tickets run as low as $12 and the team is heavily supported by the locals.
The Oneida Nation operates the nearby casino, sure to provide plenty of wagering enjoyment.
Just a short drive west of Lambeau Field is Fuzzy's. Owned and operated by former Packer Fuzzy Thurston who you will often find there, it is a popular spot for typical pub grub and cold brews. Consider eating there during your visit before game day.
On the west side of town, consider a trip to the small town of Seymour, home of the hamburger.
It is rumored friends Ryan Braun of baseball's Milwaukee Brewers and Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers are opening their second restaurant in the Green Bay area. Details are forthcoming.
Also consider the Bay Beach and the New Zoo for family fun.
Vibrant and loyal, Packers fans are a big part of what makes a game experience at Lambeau Field special. It starts early in one of the many parking lots surrounding the stadium. It is common to find a traditional tailgate party with bratwursts and beer right next to one with eight-foot diameter tables with white linen tablecloths, covered canopy for comfort and several small fish tanks filled with lobster waiting to be cooked. I have seen it with my own eyes.
Take a walk through the parking lots surrounding Lambeau Field and you will find a wide variety of things to do and things to eat. Believe it or not, there are people who rarely attend a game, but tailgate and watch the game on television from the parking lot. One group I ran into, referred to as the "Ticketless Tailgate" party", line-up northbound in the center turn lane along Oneida Street awaiting the gates to open at 8:00 AM. They eat, drink and enjoy the game, but from outside the stadium. They do, however, attend the last regular season home game as part of their tradition.
While in the parking lots where folks tailgate, you will find all kinds of things going on. The myriad of cars, lawn chairs and grills are a cornucopia of chaos, but one that must be visited. A walk through the lots will open your eyes to many new things all in the name of food, football and fun.
On the day of this review, I witnessed a life-size version of the popular building game, Jenga as well as a large size game of Shop, captain and crew, both shown in the photo gallery.
If you decide to sample things here and there, but want to be close to the stadium, consider the Tundra Tailgate Zone. Of the two large white tents east of the stadium, the other being the VIP tent, this venue provides music, food and drink in a variety of options with no cover charge. Hours are 8AM to 6:30PM; Band plays 8:15AM to 11:45PM and Alumni appear from 10:30AM to 11:30AM.
As you might expect, there are plenty of local characters to see which add to the flavor of pro football's most fervent fans, a few of them particularly worth noting.
Chris Handler is a handyman by trade, but come game day, he turns into The Packer Fence Painter. He comes to every game and wears a piece of fence on his head.
St. Vince is another character complete with flowing green and gold robe and a tall pontiff hat with an image of Vince Lombardi on the front. He sits in the north end zone, but you might see him roaming around near Armed Forces Drive.
Packers fans are welcoming and fun-loving. They are really just looking for a great time so unless you are an obnoxious Bears or Vikings fan, you can count on a fantastic time with some new-found football friends.
Lambeau Field towers over this quaint northern Wisconsin community at the southernmost point of placid Green Bay. There are no light rail systems and one or two bus lines which come close to the complex. Your best bet is to drive and park somewhere close to the stadium as mentioned previously.
Overall accessibility is not great, but keep in mind the quaintness and lack of a big-city transportation infrastructure delivers this rating. Let's be honest, like anything else, if you really want something, you find a way to get it accomplished. Planning a trip like this is no different.
Should you need to fly to the area, there are three likely options. They are:
Austin-Straubel International Airport in Green Bay (GRB) is just 7 miles west of the stadium.
Outagamie County Regional Airport in Appleton (ATW) is 34 miles southwest of the stadium.
General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee (MKE) is 125 miles south of the stadium.
I mention the latter because Southwest Airlines has gates there and tend to have much cheaper fares even though it tacks on another two hours and twelve gallons of gas to your trip.
As you select where to stay, hotel rooms on game-day weekends are hard to come by and come at a premium. Rather than stay in Green Bay, consider staying in nearby Appleton or even further away in Oshkosh. The communities offer all the amenities of Green Bay and you will save quite a bit of money by trading convenience for price.
Also, if driving from Milwaukee, consider the northward path furthest east of the two. This would be Highway 43 which provides a better quality road which, unlike Highway 41 which runs through Oshkosh and Appleton, is ALWAYS under construction.
Lastly, fans from Michigan have been found to take the ferry which can be picked up on the Michigan side at Ludington, MI to Manitowoc, WI. The ferry runs through mid-October. $128 round trip per adult, $117 for senior, $39 for children (5-15) and children under 5 are free. Standard vehicles are $74 each way. Crossing time is four hours. Once you arrive at Manitowoc, the drive to Lambeau Field is just 43 miles and an hour in duration.
New for the 2012 season for fans not wanting to tailgate and avoid driving to the game and paying to park, the main airport in Green Bay is offering parking with FREE shuttle buses to and from the game. Cost per car is $7 in the long-term lot only (park in the short-term lot and you pay $16). This is also a nice option for those who fly their private jets in to Green Bay just for the game for a quick in and out. The airfield is packed full of small jets in the days leading up to a Packers home game.
Once you decide how to get to the area, it is time to determine where to park. There are many options all with their own element of convenience and price.
Lambeau Field is situated at the corner of Lombardi Avenue to the north, Oneida Street to the east, Ridge Road to the west and Valley View Road to the south. Across Oneida Street which is closed to vehicular traffic on game day is the Don Huston practice field. On game day, the area transforms into blocks and blocks of walking and tailgating among the Packer faithful.
Single family homes dot the landscape around the stadium with front and backyards used for parking needs. There are at least several of these dwellings displaying prominent banners and signs mounted on their fences and homes supporting their beloved Packers. It is quite a scene and you are regularly reminded the NFL's smallest market is one of the most enjoyable to visit for a pro football experience.
If you are able to find a parking pass at one of the lots surrounding the stadium, you will be high dollar. If you can find one, you will typically do so by way of a season-ticket holder. On StubHub, parking passes go for as little as $80.
The streets of Green Bay are empty and quiet during the game.
Inside the stadium, the concourse width and traffic flow relative to concession lines and regular traffic flow are wide and quick. Unlike many venues where concession lines back-up into the traffic flow of a concourse, Lambeau does not have this issue. The only drawback to the concourse, and this is due to the original seating bowl, is that there is no view of the field from the concourse. You have to enter into the section to see the field.
Restrooms are clean and plentiful and lines are only long right before kick-off or at halftime. There are plenty of handicap accessible seats throughout the stadium providing ample room and access.
The security and gate check experience is quick and painless. Just be ready to show what is in your bag and be prepared to be screened by wand before entering the stadium.
A trip to Lambeau Field is an experience worth spending money. Everyone has their own threshold for how much is enough to enjoy the experience without overspending.
Depending upon how the team is doing, you can get a ticket for a good seat at $150. Flights to Milwaukee are relatively cheap compared to flights directly into Green Bay or nearby Appleton. Weekend rental cars are cheap from Milwaukee, just $40 for a two-day weekend. You can get a hotel in Oshkosh, just 45 minutes away for $100. All-in-all, the essentials are $500 for a full weekend plus food.
Merchandise is fairly priced with a few things where demand is high costing a bit more than you might expect to pay.
SPECIAL STADIUM SAUCE (that they offer at Lambeau Field as well as Miller Park). The unique flavor has inspired a wide variety of comparisons, from "a combination of barbecue sauce and sauerkraut juice" to "a mix of clam juice and sweetened tomato sauce". It can be bought at Woodman's, a regional grocer, as well as other Wisconsin grocery stores. Price per bottle is $2.75. In 2012, there was a rumor the sauce was to be removed in favor of a paid barbeque sauce sponsor. If it is removed by the time you attend the game, pick-up a bottle at a local store.
PACKERS HALL OF FAME - The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame is one of the finest in all of team sports. Located on the main level just inside the Atrium entrance, the venue is self-guided allowing you to enjoy all the details of team history and some magnificent artifacts and visuals. Be sure to spend time in a full recreation of Vince Lombardi's office and try your hand at performing your own Lambeau Leap. Allow for a minimum of ninety minutes.
Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 to 6 and Sunday from 10-5. However, the day before a game, hours are 8 AM to 7 PM. Holiday hours vary. Admission is $10 (ages 18-61), $8 for seniors (62+), military, youth (12-17), student; $5 (child 6-11), FREE (under 6).
STADIUM TOURS - Stadium Tours of Lambeau Field are given only on non-game days and are only sold day of tour on a first-come, first served basis. Tours often sell out. Check the Packers website for times as they are different from one day to the next. Tour times vary, but seem to be in 15-minute intervals on days before a game. Other days tend to be 30-minute intervals.
The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and Stadium Tour can be enjoyed through the purchase of a combo ticket which is $19 for adults.
GAME PROGRAM - The Packers publish one of the finest programs in the League and are justified in selling each for $6 instead of the typical $5 you find from other teams. It is packed with the information for the game of the day and exclusive to this event unlike some teams which combine two games into one program.
TICKET DESIGNS - Ticket designs (for those that are not electronic) are decorative enough with a player chosen per game with a clean, sharp look. Nothing extravagant here and typically is reflective of a classic look.
MERCHANDISE - The Green Bay Packers rank first in merchandise sales among the 32 NFL teams and their multi-level pro shop at the northeast corner of the complex near the Atrium supports the activity. On the Saturday before game day, the entire complex is filled with fans and the pro shop expands to provide additional cashiers to support the volume. Despite the crowd, you will be serviced quickly as it is clear the club has their crowd flow and queuing down to a science.
In the 8,500 square foot, two-level pro shop, most of the apparel is on the first level while most non-apparel merchandise is on the second level. Be sure and get a glimpse of the chandelier mounted above the main-level checkout in the center of the store, complete with nearly thirty, football-shaped bulbs. Throughout the shop, keep an eye out for classic merchandise and some artifacts just for view. Regular hours are Monday through Friday from 9AM to 7PM, Saturday 9AM to 6PM and Sunday 10AM to 5PM.
I recommend two other great spots for merchandise. If you fly into the Green Bay airport (and even if you don't make your way here for neat stuff), look for the two shops in the lower level of the airport near the baggage claim area. Owned by the original owners for more than thirty years, they also operate a lesser-stocked game-day site at The Stadium View restaurant near the stadium.
At the airport shop, you will find the most diverse selection of Packers stuff. If you are looking for unique and fair-priced Packers items, stop here. As an added benefit, they also own the cheese shop just across the walkway. Load up on cheese curds and sausages here. They are great people and offer a fantastic selection.
Another great place you must visit for collectible merchandise is within walking distance of the Lambeau Field. Sports, Memorabilia and Collectibles Consigment is located at 755 Potts Avenue in Green Bay and features some of the most unique items you can find. They also have room to support thirteen cars should you want to find a safe place to park before browsing the diverse selection of items before heading to the game. Check out the photo in the gallery of this location's proximity to the stadium. It is just south a few blocks of The Bar and Stadium View.
One last suggestion for those wanting to purchase much of what many would consider standard apparel and souvenirs is The Jersey Store. Just north and across the street from The Stadium View, you will find hundreds and hundreds of jerseys and other items here. Just know if you want something unique, you will not find it here.
RETIRED NUMBERS AND RING OF HONOR - High above the north end zone behind the Miller Lite Party Zone, you will find the five retired numbers, #14 Don Hutson, #3 Tony Canadeo, #15 Bart Starr,, #66 Ray Nitschke and #92 Reggie White. Like the ring of honor and the previous Green Bay Packers championship teams, the simple letter design and yellow color against Green Bay "green" backdrop of the inner bowl provides a clean look allowing more of a focus on the field than the building.
KID'S VALUE AND ACTIVITIES - Inside Curly's Pub is an expansive game room with plenty of interactive fun including a football toss, basketball shooting, etc.
FAN RELATIONS - Fan Relations can be found at 111 on the main level and 355 on the upper level.
No matter whom you come in contact with among the Lambeau Field staff, I am confident you will have a positive experience. You will be greeted with a smile and a genuine desire to make your visit enjoyable. In asking many questions of dozens of people during my visit, I found them to be knowledgeable and for that difficult question, they were dedicated to finding the answers.
TICKETS - Every game sells out and for good reason. Should there be tickets available for any reason, the ticket office is located on the north side of the complex to the right of the Atrium entrance.
If planning to purchase tickets upon arriving in Green Bay, there are several options. First, Ticket King is located just south of Lambeau Field along Oneida Street. This location is across the street from the county which prohibits the resale of tickets above face value.
Also, just west of Lambeau Field at the intersection of Oneida Street and Armed Forces Drive there is an official ticket reseller spot. The road is closed to pedestrian traffic and sellers roam this restricted area selling tickets for the game.
For these salesmen to sell tickets above face value in this area, they must be licensed and display this license at all times, usually on their collar or on the jacket they are wearing. Failure to do so results in a $500 fine.
GATES OPEN - Gates open two hours prior to kick-off and before the game, fans can come and go with ticket stamp. Once the game begins, all fans entering the stadium earlier, but have left cannot re-enter.
GOLD AND GREEN TICKET PACKAGE DETAILS - Importantly, for years, the Packers played three of their games in Milwaukee. In 1995, the team made a decision to play all of their games in Green Bay. To appease Milwaukee season-ticket holders, a special season ticket package was created. Therefore, there are two types of packages for season ticket holders.
The Gold Package is known as the Milwaukee Package and includes the following games - Shrine Pre-Season Game and Games 2 & 5. The Green Package includes the Bishop's Pre-Season Charities Game and Games 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 & 8.
MILWAUKEE SPOTS TO VISIT - If traveling in and out of Milwaukee, consider a visit to the following places for meals; Gilles (where MLB Commissioner Selig eats lunch when in town), Mater's (German dining treasure which has hosted meals for many heads of state), The Safe House (intrigue and espionage and difficult to find, but worth it), Held's Market (along Highway 41 and one of the best variety of meats and cheeses to pick-up before heading home).
The approach to Lambeau Field eases you off Interstate 43, guides you through a snapshot of middle class America, and opens to an abundance of game-day parking and the smell of bratwurst. A simple and unassuming trek to the mecca of football. Lambeau Field is the longest hosting stadium in the National Football League, and the hallowed ground inside has been the setting for some of the greatest moments in the history of American sports. Visiting iconic Lambeau Field should be on the short list of any sports fan's bucket list.
Outside the stadium, as is the case at any major sports event in Wisconsin, fans are cooking brats on travel grills in front of tables full of typical tailgating goods. Weave your way through the cars to the stadium as you encounter the friendliest fans in the nation. After your ticket is scanned, you find yourself in a wide open concrete cavern dotted with an endless line of beer and brat stands.
With beer and brat in hand, you squeeze single file through a tunnel that opens gloriously onto the wide bowl of the field. The panoramic, unobstructed, sun-drenched view takes your breath away (or, it might be the ice cold wind, depending on the time of year). Take your seat. Are you up in the wind or down by the players? No matter: every seat features a spectacular view of the field; every seat offers you the game experience you expect from an NFL ticket.
Sit and enjoy. You'll gladly trade being squeezed onto cold aluminum bench seating for the opportunity to bask in the glory of professional football being played on the Hallowed Ground.
Lambeau Field is one of those iconic American sports landmarks that is on (or should be on) every sports traveler's must-see list. Opened in 1957 under the name City Stadium, it became what we know it as today after the founder of the Packers, Curly Lambeau in 1965.
You can see from anywhere. It is an amazing experience. I'm a bears fan first packers second. Soldier field doesn't even compare! Will never pay to see Soldier field again. Will pay anything for Lambeau! LOVE IT!!! When I went you were able to smoke. Now I hear you can't so that will be a problem since I have tickets for 1/2 game, but either way anything is better then dealing with Soldier field. That place is what they call hell on earth!
You aren't a football fan if you haven't made the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of St. Vincent (Lombardi). Every seat has a great view, phenomenal and friendly tailgating, easy access to the stadium (no real traffic issues) and tradition! Best place to see a game bar none!!
Went the year the Packers won the superbowl and saw them beat the 49ers. Best football stadium I have been to. I have been here, RCA Dome, and Ford Field. I am planning on going to Lucas Oil Stadium this year, but Lambeau will be hard to beat. GO PACK GO!
1990 South Ridge Rd.
Green Bay, WI 54304
1963 Holmgren Way
Green Bay, WI 54304
2161 S Oneida St
Green Bay, WI 54304
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