Today we went to Lambeau Field. It was amazing, the Green Bay Packers are the best sports team ever, and cheese curds in all their forms are delicious. That’s all you need to know, but more details follow for those of you bored enough to read them.
Our plan for today was simple. Breakfast, check out of giant hotel room, head over to Lambeau and treat me to a new Packers t-shirt, do a tour and then drive off for Wisconsin Dells where we’d find some beers and get pretty drunk. It was a good plan.
(I’ve been asked to add an explanation in here, Lambeau Field is the stadium where the Packers, my NFL team of choice, play. Good enough explanation, Tom?)
Setting out on the road was a little nerve-wracking still, especially since we were driving through an actual town, but the impending excitement put all that into the background. There it was, Lambeau Field, imposing without being obnoxious, modern without being tacky. We swung into the unstaffed and totally free car park, I had a 5 minute sit in the car to gather my composure and liberally apply sun cream to every exposed part of myself, and we were off up the steps to the nearest entrance.
It was shut, of course. Construction purposes. But never mind, the second entrance we tried was open . . .
This brief intermission is brought to you by Dave attempting to open a beer bottle without a bottle opener. First with the windowsill, then with a sheet of paper, then with a second beer bottle. He lost a fingernail, and we got a lot of beer on the carpet and also in the toilet. Now we return to the blog post.
. . . and took us straight past a giant, GIANT, model of the Vince Lombardi trophy to the Packers Pro Shop and tour tickets. We bought our tickets from a pair of lovely middle aged ladies who asked us all about Princess Charlotte, mooched around outside a bit and eventually located the Lambeau Leap statue. For those not in the know, the “Lambeau Leap” is a tradition whereby the Packer who just scored a touchdown leaps up the barrier at the endzone and half into the crowd, who all jostle enthusiastically to lay congratulatory hands on the large sweaty newcomer in their midst. It’s a good tradition, a tie between the players and their fans, and so there is now a statue outside the stadium allowing chumps like us to perform our own leap. In my case it was more of a Lambeau ungraceful-shuffle but I got up there in the end.
The past few days we’ve been pretty cheap, not wasting money on expensive touristy frivolities, but all of that good work was undone when we exited the Packers Pro shop with a new sexy Packers t-shirt, Packers sunglasses, sparkly Packers earrings and of course a pack of Packers hair clips. All for me of course, Dave being a filthy Dolphins fan and all. Totally worth the expense, imo.
We were sort of worried our stadium tour would be just us, and given that we had two tour guides it was poised to get a little awkward, but it turned out they were both very nice and then at the last minute two other women turned up so it was all good. We learned all about the renovations they’re carrying out there right now and then headed up to one of the big boxes on the top floor to look out over the field. My Noodly Lord, it was exciting. The tour guide talked about the team’s history, how they became owned by the fans, how no other professional sports team in America can make that same claim, the waiting list for season tickets, the insane loyalty of the fans, how he himself received his season ticket when his aunt died and left it to him in her will. It’s not just a fun game to these people, it’s a sincere source of state pride and I can’t blame them in the slightest. If more sports teams took such an interest in their community and were run for the benefit of the fans rather than for some rich owner, maybe more of them would have my support. There’s a 1500 year waiting list for season tickets for a reason, and I’m pretty sure even Dave was moved.
Anyway. After our views from on high we took the elevator down to basement level for the moment we’d all been waiting for. A brief stop by the locker rooms (which we weren’t allowed into because unlike other teams the Packers actually stay and use their stadium all year long) and it was time, we were about to walk through the player’s tunnel to the field.
The doors lifted, our tour guide paused for a moment just to let the tension build, and then the sound of a sold-out crowd cheering. Not in my head, it was coming over the actual speakers, but I’d have been hearing it in my head anyway by that point. Myself and this one other lady all the way from Phoenix were just completely overexcited, we strode confidently out of the tunnel into the bright sunlight with the sound of the crowd cheering in our ears and I’m sure my grin was just as wide as hers. We were right there, Lambeau Field, exactly where all of our favourite players walk out to play their home games.
The tour guide kindly took our photo, the one you can see at the top of this post. He told us more about the renovations, and showed us the tiny, narrow, visiting team tunnel that leads on to their locker room (up some stairs, to tire them out at half time). He pointed out roughly where his own seat was in the bleachers, and for some reason Dave took a photo of the grass. I can’t talk though, I’d taken a photo of the floor in the loos when I saw it was green and gold.
After the tour we pottered around outside for a bit, and ended up in Kroll’s which is the restaurant over the road that various people had recommended as “the real Green Bay experience”. Conclusion: Kroll’s is very very nice and looks like it would have a pretty amazing atmosphere on game day. It also has buttons to press when you’re ready to order, which is awesome for socially awkward people like us. It also had a good view of Lambeau, of course, and I sat entranced throughout the meal.
Sadly, despite my protestations, eventually we had to leave. We wandered slowly back to the car, briefly considering whether to look into the process for adding our names to the season ticket waiting list, and our visit to Lambeau was over. One day, I will be back.