Sunday, October 22, 2017: New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field at noon
1. History of the city and team:
In 1634, French-Canadian woodsman Jean Nicolet, the first European to set foot in Wisconsin, is said to have come ashore at Red Banks just north of modern Green Bay. There, he shot off two pistols in front of the native inhabitants. He claimed the spot for France, founded a small trading post, and changed the local name from La Baie des Puants, or “The Bay of Stinking Waters” to La Baie Verte, or “Green Bay.” When the Erie Canal connected the Great Lakes to the port of New York City in 1825, Green Bay grew as a trading center known for iron smelting and lumber.
In August of 1919, it was announced that the Indian Packing Company would sponsor a football team dubbed the Packers, led by former high school stand-out and company employee Curly Lambeau. In 1921, the team was one of the inaugural members of what would become the NFL. The Packers have won eight NFL championships and four Super Bowls, including the very first Super Bowl in 1966 and Super Bowl XXXI in the Superdome.
So why does Green Bay, a city smaller than Metairie, even have an NFL team? The Packers are owned by the community, the only such arrangement in professional sports. In fact, the team has more than three times as many owners as Green Bay has residents. The 1923 “Articles of Incorporation” require that any profits made from the sale of the team must go to the building of a soldier’s memorial at the American Legion’s Sullivan-Wallen Post, so there isn’t a huge benefit to selling the team, although it would be one heck of a memorial.
Despite being in a small city, the Packers have a huge, loyal and cheese-topped fan base from all over Wisconsin that have made the Packers the 13th most valuable franchise in the league per Forbes (The Saints are 27th.) On a personal note, Cheeseheads are easily the nicest fans of any team I’ve met. I once told a Packers fan in the Lambeau parking lot how much I liked his “Worst Call Ever” t-shirt and he took it off and gave it to me. My wife, naturally, stole it from me.
2. Getting there:
Where you fly into depends on how long you want to drive. You can fly directly into Chicago (ORD, MDW) from New Orleans and drive around 210 miles up to Green Bay. You can fly to Milwaukee (MKE), although not non-stop, then drive around 120 miles. Or, as we usually do, fly to Appleton (ATW) and drive 30 miles. It depends if you want to do some big city things as well, like catching LeBron against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.
3. What to do in Green Bay:
Get Cheese (everywhere) – They don’t just wear the cheeseheads because it’s fashionable. Wisconsin is the country’s most prolific producer of cheese, turning out 3.24 billion pounds a year in 600 varieties, 65 of which are unique to Wisconsin. There are several cheese shops around Green Bay, such as Nala’s Fromagerie (2633 Development Drive #30) and Ron’s Wisconsin Cheese (124 Main Street, Luxemburg) should you like to take some home (please don’t put the Limburger in your carry-on). In Theresa, about 90 minutes south of Green Bay towards Milwaukee, you can visit Widmer’s Cheese Cellars (214 W Henni Street) and take a tour an actual cheese factory.
Neville Public Museum (210 Museum Place) – This repository is packed with displays of history, science, and art related to Wisconsin’s upper peninsula, including the permanent Packers-themed exhibit “Hometown Advantage: The Community and The Packers.” There are also several special exhibits such as “Neon: Darkness Electrified” and “Permian Monsters: Life before Dinosaurs” going on now. Open Tues-Sat 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. Admission $7/adults, $3/kids under 16
Meyer Theatre (17 South Washington Street)- Art Deco and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture highlights this theater which opened in 1930 and features an original Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ. Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone performs on Friday at 8 p.m. and Eagles tribute band EagleMania takes it to the limit Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
4: For the Wee Dats:
National Railroad Museum (2285 South Broadway) – Dedicated to the preservation of the railroad culture, this museum where my son would have happily lived as a child has a Union Pacific Big Boy, Dwight Eisenhower’s command cars from WWII, and the streamlined Aerotrain from the 1950’s to name a few features. In addition to movies and train exhibits, visitors can take a 25-minute train ride around the property. On Saturday night, there is a Great Pumpkin Train kids can take to a pumpkin patch. Open Mon-Sat 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission with ride $12/adults, $9.50/ kids 2-12
Children’s Museum of Green Bay – Large, kid-friendly interactive museum with hands-on stations of a market, fire station, diner, vet clinic and automotive garage plus lots of other imagination inspirations. Open Tues-Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun noon-5 p.m. Admission $8
N.E.W. Zoo Adventure Park (4378 Reforestation Road, Suamico) – Penguins, giraffes, Japanese macaques, as well as numerous species native to Wisconsin are on display on this 43-acre zoo and adventure park. Zip-lining and rope bridges will help wear out the little ones. Zoo Boo 2017 continues Friday and Saturday with giant inflatables, haunted wagon rides, and “live Swamp Monsters.” Open daily 9 a.m-6 p.m., (Zoo Boo 3 p.m.-8 p.m.) Admission $9/adults, $6/kids 3-15, Zoo Boo extra
5. Special events in Wisconsin this weekend:
University of Wisconsin hockey (Friday, Saturday) – The Badgers host Northern Michigan at Green Bay’s Resch Center (1901 S. Oneida St.) at 7 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday
Milwaukee Bucks NBA basketball (Friday, Saturday) – The Bucks host LeBron James and the Cavaliers at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee on Friday night at 6 p.m. They host the Portland Trailblazers on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
University of Wisconsin football (Saturday) – The top ten-ranked Badgers host the Maryland Terrapins at 11 a.m. at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison (about 135 miles from Green Bay)
WWE Monday Night Raw (Monday) – Pro wrestling mayhem at the Resch Center (1901 S. Oneida St.) in Green Bay at 6:30 p.m.
6. Where to eat / drink:
Titletown Brewing Company (200 Dousman Street) – Handcrafted beer and pub food are featured at this popular restaurant built into the 1898 Chicago Northwestern Railroad Depot. There’s even a giant Packer catching a pass out front. On Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon, they are offering a $20 Keggs Donuts event with Uncle Mike’s Donut buffet, an omelet station and one beer, mimosa or Bloody Mary.
The Pancake Place (143 South Military Ave.) – With twenty-one kinds of pancakes, as well as Belgian waffles, stuffed hash browns, and French Toast, this is a good spot to load up on a big Wisconsin game day breakfast. Open at 5 a.m.
A’Bravo Bistro Wine Bar (2069 Central Court #77) – TripAdvisor’s #1 restaurant in Green Bay, this bistro features gourmet sandwiches, pizzas, pasta and seasonal dishes as well as an extensive martini and wine menu.
7. Game Day:
England has Stonehenge, Rome has the Colosseum, Green Bay has Lambeau Field. When the “Frozen Tundra” opened sixty years ago, there was a farm in the parking lot. It is the oldest continuously operating stadium in the NFL. With 81,441 seats, Lambeau can accommodate about 77% of the population of Green Bay.
Parking lots open four hours before the game. Stadium gates open two hours before kickoff.
Game-Day Parking Transportation: Driving is pretty much the main way of getting to the game. Except for first come/first serve spots for people with disabilities, parking lots have been sold out for season ticket holders since the last Ice Age. You can park for free on the streets in the neighborhood, and many MANY residents around the stadium rent out parking spots in their yards and driveways.
There are several bus routes that will take you to and from the game for free: “Lambeau Leap” route originates at Green Bay Metro center downtown with a round trip of 20-25 minutes. “Quick Slant” route from the corner of Reid and 4th streets in De Pere (20 minutes RT). “Cheesehead” route covers the airport and surrounding hotels (40-50 minutes RT). “QB Sneak” route begins at the Country Inn Suites near Interstate 43 East Mason Street (45-55 minutes RT).
Extra point: Books and movies set in Wisconsin for the plane
Movies: Bridesmaids, Wayne’s World, Feed the Fish
Books: David Wroblewski’s “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” Chad Harbach’s “The Art of Fielding,” David Rhodes’ “Driftless”