Cities behind the teams: Green Bay

Posted Dec 13, 2017

We go behind the curtain of each NFL team's home city every week presented by Visit The USA.

Unlike any other NFL team, the Green Bay Packers define their home city of Green Bay. A unique club, in their success, their ownership and their fanbase, the Packers have captured the imaginations of sports fans across the globe since they joined the NFL in 1921.

The Packers are based in Green Bay, a small city located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Green Bay was originally settled by French fur traders in 1634 and is one of the oldest European settlements in North America. Through the British takeover and the War of Independence, Green Bay became a major mid-western trading post, especially after the Erie Canal (1825) was completed, linking New England with the Great Lakes and allowing more settlers into the region. By the 20th century, Green Bay then began to develop its blue-collar identity with several meatpacking plants, paper mills, and a port on Green Bay. 

The Packers have been in Green Bay since 1919 when they were founded by Earl ‘Curly’ Lambeau and George Calhoun. They are the third oldest franchise in the NFL.  They are named the Packers after Lambeau asked his employer, the Indian Packing Company, to sponsor the team for uniforms and equipment.  They now have the most trophies of any NFL team, having won 11 NFL championships including five in the 1960s before the AFL-NFL merger and have four Super Bowl victories.

The Packers are an iconic team, not least because of the nature of their ownership and fanbase. They are the only non-profit, community-owned major league professional sports team based in the United States.  This means that they are owned by over 350 thousand stockholders of which no one person is allowed more than 4% of the shares. A share can be sold back to the team for a fraction of the original price and may be given as a gift but only between immediate family members.

Lambeau Field has been the home of the Packers since 1957. It stands as a testament to the team’s loyal fans with every game since 1960 being sold out.  It has been the scene of some of the most famous games in NFL history, most notably Super Bowl II in 1967 which became known as the Ice Bowl because temperatures got as low as -25 degrees Celsius.

Part of the Packer’s appeal is their history with talismanic Quarterbacks and Coaches. The most famous of this group was Head Coach Vince Lombardi who led the Packers to five NFC titles throughout the 1960s and back-to-back victories at Super Bowl I and II. After his sudden death in 1970, the NFL renamed the Super Bowl trophy after him.  Their periods of success have always coincided with franchise Quarterbacks. Bart Starr was the original, being the Quarterback during the 60s domination. Brett Favre was their Quarterback between 1992 and 2007 and led them to a win in 1996 at Super Bowl XXXI. Most recently, Aaron Rodgers took the reins from Brett Favre in 2008 after being his understudy for three years and helped the Packers win Super Bowl XLV in 2010.

This combination of great players, community-spirit and a winning footballing culture has created an exceptionally loyal fanbase. The waiting list for a season ticket is 123,000 names long, more than there are seats at Lambeau field and the average wait is said to be over 30 years. Because of this, season tickets are often willed to next of kin and newborns will be placed on the list as soon as they have a birth certificate! The fans are also known as cheeseheads because of Wisconsin’s relationship with dairy and Packers fans can often be found wearing a triangle-shaped cheesehead hat.

Green Bay is truly a football town and so the top attraction for any visitor and a must-do bucket list item for any football fan is a game at Lambeau Field. The atmosphere and fans are incredible and the roar of the crowd when a Packer does the ‘Lambeau leap’ after a touchdown is not to be missed.

Wisconsin is a beautiful state and that Big Country/ Great Lakes feel is present in Green Bay. Go fishing in the Green Bay Marina or go for a stroll around the Green Bay Botanical Gardens which are a 19-hectare paradise.

Finally, if you are looking for indoor entertainment then take a train ride and tour the National Railroad Museum on the banks of the Fox river or enjoy the history at the Neville Public Museum. There is also lots to be learnt about Oneida and Iroquois First Nation culture at the Oneida Nation Museum. There’s even entertainment for the kids at the Children’s Museum of Green Bay.

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