Go Pack Go
I know, it could be the theme of our road trip and as soon as I saw it on a T shirt in the window of the Green Bay Packers shop, I knew it’d make a great souvenir.
We know nothing about American Football. We knew nothing about the Green Bay Packers beyond the story I shared yesterday about Edward’s friend Seb and the year of the Superbowl. But arriving in the city yesterday afternoon, passing the huge Lambeau Field and noticing almost everyone sporting a Green Bay Packers logo in some form or other (no exaggeration, i promise) we realised that this is an important feature of life in this city. This morning, we planned a visit to the field to find out more.
As soon as we stepped inside, we knew we were to hear a very special story.
We were very fortunate indeed to be part of Candy’s group. She was a great guide, full of energy and information. She explained how the Packers had been started by Curly Lambeau in 1919 and how Vince Lombardi had inspired them to huge success.
She told how the club is owned by its fans – or by the people of the city, which appear to be one and the same group of people, because just as we suspected, everyone here is a Packers supporter. The picture above shows the walkway between the stadium and the training ground, where each year, a tradition takes place.
As we stood in the stands high above the pitch, we learned how the games have been fully sold out since 1960. After a rocky few years, the Packers regained their status as one of the major football teams and a visionary President, Bob Harlan extended the stadium and consolidated operations here at Lambeau Field. The stadium holds 81k spectators and there are 81k season ticket holders (even though there are only 104k inhabitants of Green Bay).
Moving up further, to the very classy seats high above the pitch, we learned they cost $395 per game, but of course, are all sold by season ticket. An “ordinary” ticket down on the benches costs $129 per match, with the most expensive terrace seats costing $550 per match. We knew the waiting list was long, but hearing there are 130k names on the list right now came as a surprise. With just 80 or 90 places becoming available each year, it’s estimated that it will take over 900 years for the last names on the list to get a season ticket!
Good grief. Season tickets can be passed to close relatives, but not sold on privately. These are rare and extraordinarily valuable (and, at hundreds of dollars per match, expensive!) commodities.
Whilst we were reeling from such statistics, wondering how on earth the average person ever affords such things (whilst knowing that there are 81k people who can and do) we continued our tour. It was a gorgeous morning and the views were spectacular, right over to the lake and with a fine view of the city.
But in the winter? Brrrr! Candy told me they can get 70” of snow here and that people are paid $10 an hour to clear snow from the seats before a match. The pitch itself is heated by warm water pipes underneath.
By now, we were at the most expensive level of seating; the best of both worlds. Outside, for the atmosphere but with an indoor area for when it gets really cold and access to a club in the stand too.
“Ordinary” seating was closest to the pitch and was formed of simple benches with 18” placements.
(In the lift, Candy warned us that as we arrived at the next floor, the (rival) Bears’ anthem would be played. “Listen out”, she advised, as the doors opened and the announcement “Going Down” was heard. Much tittering in the audience, then!)
Our stadium tour complete, we did a quick tour of the Hall of Fame/Packers Museum. I learned that I wouldn’t cut the mustard when it comes to hand size!
It was all rather interesting, though we didn’t really have the knowledge to make the most of the exhibits.
And I never did find out what the white “hanky” the players tuck into their waistband is for.
But I did find my souvenir T shirt in the shop!
My Hero had done his homework and knew what to expect here, looking forward especially to seeing the electric GG1 engine and the Union Pacific “Big Boy” next door.
We’d seen the huge Allegheny engine in the Ford collection, but this was even bigger. Enormous!
Alongside, rather small in comparison, was the Dwight D Eisenhower. Familiar to us as the Mallard or Sir Nigel Gresley, I was a little irritated by the lampstand which spoiled the pictures we tried to take of it.
One of the first model engines we came across was this Aerotrain, designed to appeal to a car owning generation during the 1950s.
Out in the shed was the sad reality. An Aerotrain and two carriages was there, looking rather shabby and the carriages in particular in pretty poor shape.
Our here were other engines, some indoors, others outside but all looking rather sorry and uncared for.
I appreciate that it’s an enormous task to bring everything into first class order, but couldn’t help but feel that it’d be better to keep these things under wraps and not have them on general view.
It’s hardly inspiring to see such a jumble of steel and rust and those for whom these engines would provide important research resources could be given special access if necessary.
It was hard to imagine how any small boy would feel inspired to learn more by most of these “works in progress” and without my hero on hand to explain what was what, I think we’d have given up and left, once we’d seen the first three engines.
Green Bay has proved to be more of a railway city than I imagined, though, for we returned to Titletown for dinner this evening, sitting beneath this fun clock, even if my hero did comment that the engine was not originally painted in Packers colours!
And though I’ve tried to scrub it off, I appear to have another lasting souvenir of the Packers to take to Chicago with me tomorrow