Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Those Places Thursday - Pilgrimages to Lambeau Field

The Atrium entrance to Lambeau

It sounds silly, I mean no one is going to Lambeau Field to worship or anything, but to Packers fans from all over, getting to Lambeau Field is a pretty big deal.  Getting season tickets, well, that's a huge deal.

The Green Bay Packers have an extraordinary history, heck the trophy awarded to the Super Bowl winner is named after former Green Bay Packer coach, Vince Lombardi.  Lombardi is looked at as an inspiration to football fans and players everywhere.  Heck, one of my nephews is named Vincent if that tells you about Packer love!
One of the many businesses with Packer pride

I’ve been to Lambeau several times.  My husband is originally from Green Bay and every time we go home to visit a trip to Lambeau Field is on the schedule (and a Packer game if they’re playing).  Green Bay exudes Packers.  Almost every business has something Packer in the store and Packer gear among kids and adults alike is a clothing staple.

Want to go to a Packers home game?  Well, unless you know someone with season tickets or find a dealer authorized to sell tickets for season ticket holders that aren’t going to the game that weekend, you’re pretty much out of luck.  The Packers games have been sold out since 1960.  So if you want to go and live in the vicinity, best sign up for season tickets, but…

Getting season tickets is no easy matter.  You will wait decades, or even your entire life without getting season tickets.  It used to be that you could will someone your place on the waiting list if you died, but no more.  Luckily, you can still will your tickets to someone so it’s possible to keep them in the family!

In front of Lambeau with Benjamin
 To illustrate how long it takes, and how important it is, to get season tickets, after our first son was born we flew to Wisconsin from Hawaii to have Benjamin baptized in my husband’s church…and then we drove to Lambeau Field and put his name on the waiting list for season tickets.  After our second son was born, we drove from Tennessee to Pennsylvania to have Daniel baptized in my church and then a few days later drove to Wisconsin to see family…and to go to Lambeau and put his name on the waiting list for season tickets.  Benjamin was born in 2001 and his number on the waiting list the last we checked is 47560.  Daniel was born in 2006 and his number is 68529.

I mentioned earlier that almost all stores have something cheering the Packers on inside, but lets talk about the city.  The McDonalds restaurants are GREEN & GOLD!!! 

A Green Bay McDonalds

You’ve seen signs up north that tell you not to park on this side of the street due to street sweeping or plowing?  Well, in Green Bay you see street signs that say “No Parking Day of Packer Game”!

A very unique sign
Many streets, particularly near Lambeau Field, are named for popular/famous Packer players and coaches, and Brett Favre owns a steakhouse near the stadium!

Well, speaking of Brett Favre what Packer fans had heartache about (apart from him being just a first class drama queen) was the fact that he didn’t retire (you know…the final time he retired) straight from the Packers.  His last team that he played for should have been the Packers, and the silliness that went on (and the reasons were many, varied, and complicated) should never have happened.  He should have gone out gloriously, and not gone out with a text of his genitals!

Despite the Favre-drama and how upset fans were at his bumping around to other teams, what they support
fully is Aaron Rogers.  Not only is Rogers a 1st class quarterback, but that’s what Packer fans do.  They support their team.  They don’t support their team when they’re winning.  They support their team whether they’re winning or whether they’re having a terrible season!  Packer fans don’t walk out of football games.  They stay to support their team, not what you see when you watch other teams play…they’re losing and the stands empty.  Nope…not for my Packers.  Die hard fans, always. 

Lambeau isn’t a covered stadium either, and as you might expect, it snows in Green Bay, so after it snows the fans come out to shovel the stands and get the stadium ready for the game.  They come out in droves to shovel!  In fact earlier this year the stadium had to turn away hundreds of people because there were just too many of them!  There were even some fans that drove more than 3 hours so they could shovel.  It was like they were waiting for Black Friday Holiday deals outside Walmart.  They waited for the stadium to open and to be among the people selected.  Sure they get paid, but they do it because they are fans!

Going to a game is an all-day affair….OK…most of the day affair.  You first have to find a place to park.  There simply isn’t enough room at Lambeau to park (and it’s expensive!), but if you drive around (or know the right people) you can find parking near the stadium.  Lambeau is right next to a residential area.  Quite literally there are homes across the street from the stadium!  People rent out their lawns for anywhere from $10-$25.00+ dollars per car to park.  I don’t know what it does to their lawn, but do the math…if you fit 10+ cars on your lawn each time the Packers play, that’s a nice chunk of change!

Outside Lambeau after signing Danny up for tickets
So we park on a friend of a friend’s lawn and then we tailgate.  Sometimes it’s just sandwiches, and sometimes it’s much more, but a tailgate is required…even if it’s 5 degrees!  You dress for the game.  You bundle up in the winter.  Seriously bundled up!  Then you head in about 45 minutes to and hour prior to kickoff so you can get through security, get a tasty beverage and get to your seat.  After the game you go back to your car and chill out for about an hour until the traffic clears before even attempting to head home.

The Packers aren’t owned by one person.  They are owned by the fans themselves.  In fact, as I type this, the last day to purchase stock in the Green Bay Packers is coming to an end.  Perhaps we’ll purchase a couple shares before midnight.  If not, we’ll wait for the next stock option.  How much are shares going for?  $250!  It’s one of the ways that this non-profit organization raises extra funds.

I'm not originally from Green Bay, but as I've blogged before, I've whole-heartedly married into a Packer family and am a die hard fan.  I love the passion the fans have as well as the sense of humor.  This DirecTV ad makes me laugh.  It's very spot-on.  The hand-made sweater.  The priest sitting in the room with her and the team rivalry (although they would have been more on target had it been a Bears fan that moved in).