Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cheeseheads, EVERYWHERE!!!

When S and I drove from West to East mainly to get from the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore over to Door County, we spent one night in Green Bay. We decided, once we were checked into our hotel for the night, to mosey over to Lambeau Field for a look-see. What we didn't realize was Packers Training Camp was underway.

S, self-portrait.

I should say that S knew training camp was going on, but didn't think there would be a nighttime practice. We really were just going over to see the stadium since we were in town and it's such a hallowed place for football fans, no matter who your team is. And, just as we arrived, we drove right into traffic being stopped for the players to cross to practice.

They have this very nice, new practice facility - indoor and outdoor, right across from the stadium. And, there is this long standing tradition - from when Vince Lombardi was coach, that the players ride across to practice during training camp on the bikes of local kids. This is a really cool thing. I caught some photos, through the car window, of this, since we were stopped by the traffic for this to occur.

This tradition speaks to the overall feel and atmosphere around this place - the Packers organization is a fan centered enterprise. Everything they do, they do it with the fans in mind. It is the only NFL team to be owned by the fans, and maybe this is why. I don't know, but I have to say they could all learn something from the Green Bay Packers when it comes to fan interaction.

So, we waited as all the players came across on all sorts of bicycles, carrying kids on their backs or kids running next to them, holding their helmets.

Then, we parked and walked on across to the practice area.

The bleachers hold 1500 people - I think they crammed at least 1800 in there. Then, there were hundreds hanging on the sides, watching their every move as well.

Outside the practice area, the kid bikes were lined up for the trip back across at the end of practice, there were Packers vendors, food vendors, the local paper and a visitor's bureau, tracking where everyone was from.

Visitors to Packers camp from all over.

S put a pin in Dallas for us.

S wore his DSO t-shirt, so they knew we were from Dallas. S told them, though, that on that day, we were Packers fans! And we were - we really were. It was a really fun place to be.

We have this photo because one of the employees walked up to US,
unprovoked, and asked if he could take our photo.
Fan centered. Definitely fan centered.

There were dads and little guys, taking it in together.
And cheeseheads...there were cheeseheads.

We went over to the stadium to see if we could get a glimpse of the field. Nope. The only way to do that is to pay $11 and take a tour. Tours had concluded for that day, and we were headed to Door County the next morning, so we didn't see the field. We did walk through the Pro Shop. There is also a restaurant, open year round, on the premises.

S ran into one of the guys working at the stadium and talked him up for a while. He told him lots of fun facts about working there and about the team. S told him he thought it would be great to see a game in that stadium. The guy suggested he come sometime when one of Dallas' big rivals were playing the Packers so you could be there rooting for the home team. Yeah, uh, probably really good advice. I'm not sure what that place would feel like as a supporter of the other team. A very lonely place, I think. Ahem.

By doing right by their fans and creating this all inclusive atmosphere, they have some of the most loyal fans in the world - no matter if they win or lose, no matter how cold or hot it is - no matter what, this town and this state support their team. So, in turn, the team makes plenty of money.

S, the temporary Cheesehead.

This is the opposite of Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys - from the first step you take anywhere near that team, you know Jerry and his friends are out to take every dollar they can from you in the name of "America's Team". Don't get me wrong, they are my "hometown" team, and I root for them. But, after experiencing time in Green Bay, I'd say they know more what it's about to be a team for the people. It was a lot of fun, and I'm not even a fan. It was seriously great.


  1. Go Vikings. Did you buy a cheesehead?


  2. No, Stephanie, we did not buy a Cheesehead - we just tried them on and left them in the store. I mean, where on earth would we wear them in Dallas?


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