I’ve wanted to make the trip to Lambeau Field for a long time and it seemed a natural to take in the Jaguars/Packers game in August to accomplish that. I know it’s not the entire “experience” of the “frozen tundra” but it was special nonetheless.
I flew to Milwaukee and drove the two hours up to Green Bay. All interstate, it’s a pretty easy drive and I was a few hours early so traffic wasn’t much of a problem. I did stop on the way for a few minutes at a Holiday Inn and was pretty amazed to see a bunch of people milling around the lobby wearing their Packer green and gold. Obviously they were headed to the game.
Once in Green Bay I was surprised at the size of the town. Although it is an outpost along the shore of the lake, it’s not a one-horse town by any means. But it wasn’t hard to find the stadium. It looms in the distance as a true landmark. I was traveling with my friends Rob and Keith so as we got closer we were all pretty surprised at all of the fans hanging around the stadium and all of the homeowners near Lambeau who were parking cars in their front yard.
It was clean with wide parkways and neatly trimmed lawns, something you’d see out of a Rockwell painting if he’d ever attended an NFL game. We parked and looked for a place to get something to eat. The atmosphere around the game was much like Florida/Georgia at home with out the majority of people being over-served. But it was festive with bands playing and people really enjoying themselves. All of this for an exhibition game! We ate across the street, ordering the local fare, butter burgers and cheese curds.
Lambeau was renovated in 2000, so the structure itself is new-looking brick and glass. It seats over 70,000 but there’s no upper deck. It’s all in the lower bowl with great sight lines from every seat and the luxury boxes and press box perched above the seats. The vibe was excited and friendly with people milling everywhere, just about everybody in some kind of Packer jersey. If you weren’t wearing green and gold, you stood out like a sore thumb.
One end of the stadium has an expanded building, housing the Packer Hall of Fame. If you’re any kind of NFL fan, it’s great, starting with a 12-minute video chronicling the history of the team followed by memorabilia from Packer greats over the years. If you played in the NFL and were lucky enough to play for Green Bay you’re a hero forever in that town.
They also have an Atrium at the end of the stadium where they have a variety of eateries and drink carts adding to the overall experience. We ordered Bloody Mary’s’ and I saw the most complete condiment cart for Bloodies I’ve ever seen! You name it as a possible add-on for your drink it was there. You could have virtually a whole salad in with the vodka and the mix. They had some of the best horseradish ever on that cart as well.
We took in the view from a variety of seats around the stadium and even though we found three together in the club section the stadium was virtually full. One thing the club section had was a flip card roster for every seat, something the Jaguars could add to their repertoire.
Packer fans were, as expected, very knowledgeable and had high expectations. They weren’t disappointed by their first team (as opposed to the Jaguars fans at the game) and knew what they were looking for when the back-ups got in the game.
If you have a chance to ever go to a Packer game, go. It’s well worth the trip. Maybe my next one will be in December when they say the real “experience” happens.