Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Face Full O’ Sod

From the 1965 NFL Championship Game at Lambeau Field, RB Elijah Pitts gets some turf stuck in his helmet. On this muddy day against the Cleveland Browns, Pitts had one punt return for -10 yards. And this is the result.
Photo courtesy of eBay

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Vince Lombardi Show

We’ve mentioned this before, but we’ll bring it up again. Do the tapes remain from The Vince Lombardi Show that aired in Wisconsin during the Sixties? Obviously, at least some do, evidenced by the appearance of footage in a few documentaries, including the recent NFL Network production, Lombardi: A Football Life, from which these images were taken. From a historical standpoint, it is a crime to keep these locked up somewhere. If anyone knows anything, we’d love to hear from you.

The Columbus Community Club, which opened in 1925 as a recreational and social center, played many roles in Packer history. In the 1920s, before radio broadcasts of Packer games, large crowds gathered on Sunday afternoons when the team was playing on the road. A play-by-play was transmitted by telegraph wire from the site of the game, and the results were posted here on a large board built in the shape of a football field. From 1927 until the mid-1930s, the Packers used the top floor as a clubhouse. For five years, starting in 1930, their ticket office was located here, as well.

The building also was the site of championship celebrations and rousing public rallies that helped save the franchise. Banquets were held in the first-floor auditorium after the Packers won NFL titles in 1936 and 1939. On April 11, 1950, more than 1,500 fans filled the auditorium to kick off the Packers' third stock drive. And on March 31, 1956, more than 1,000 fans attended a rally in support of building what is now Lambeau Field. George Halas and Curly Lambeau were among the speakers. Three days later, the city-wide referendum passed in a landslide. This also was where The Vince Lombardi Show was taped by WBAY-TV.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Goodbye to Packers Pro Shop III

When we were in Green Bay the weekend before last, we made our final trip to Packers Pro Shop III. We call it that because we have seen all the incarnations of the Packers’ retail effort since the late 1980s. For our younger readers, there was a time not that long ago when it was hard to find Packers apparel even in Green Bay. The best bet was at a Montgomery Wards at the local mall. Then someone got the idea that maybe they should try and sell their own merchandise right at Lambeau Field. So they started with a small alcove off the main lobby of the old administration building (Packers Pro Shop I). Then, as the merchandising concept took off in the NFL, they built a whole store attached to the building (Packers Pro Shop II). When Lambeau was renovated and expanded in 2001-2003, the Pro Shop (III) as we have known it, came into being. Now, with the renovation of the Atrium, Packers Pro Shop IV promises to be much bigger and better. These photos are being offered for posterity regarding this era of Packers retail history. And many of our posts are for people who have never been to — and may never get to — Lambeau Field or Green Bay.

We are looking forward to the opening of the new Pro Shop (IV) in July.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Construction Update

We made a trip to Green Bay last weekend for an early Spring get-a-way, and to check on the progress of the construction project at Lambeau Field. For those who are unaware, read this. “Why change things?” some may say — Lambeau is only eleven years post-renovation. Well, a lot can be learned in those years, so improvements are being made that should be pleasing to most when it’s all done — scheduled for this July at the shareholders’ meeting.

The previous plaza area has been excavated away, and very little evidence of it remains.

Everything has been made level to the previous parking lot, and to the level of Lombardi Avenue to the North.

Another view of the Atrium entrance area, viewed from the Northeast.

Here you can see that the new area is level with the existing parking lot. That’s the Don Hutson Center practice facility in the distance at left.

A straight-on view of the Lambeau Field Atrium. The area covered by tarps behind the crane and below the previous Bob Harlan Plaza level will be the main entrance to the new Packers Pro Shop. It will be located underneath the Atrium’s floor, in a greatly increased space.

Looking to the Southeast amongst the construction equipment.

A view which shows how much earth has been excavated away from the previous plaza.

This view of the Atrium’s East side depicts where there will be another entrance to the Pro Shop from the parking lot — near the Oneida Nation Gate entrance. At this point, we’re not exactly sure which of the openings will be the entrance.

A view of Lambeau’s North end.

Everything is open through the current construction phase, except the Packers Hall of Fame, which will re-open in 2015. Curly‘s Pub will also close for a time before re-opening in 2015 as well.

The Oneida Nation Gate is currently the only access into the Lambeau Field Atrium during this phase of construction.

Above and below, some formerly always-open areas are closed off for construction.

The level of the previous plaza area is maintained outside the Atrium‘s main entrance. This area will now be accessible via a new stairway and walkway from the Northwest. Below this will be the new Pro Shop.

When you stand in this area, you will be standing on the Pro Shop’s roof over their main entrance.

The Atrium entrance is boarded up to protect it during this construction phase.

A look at the construction area from the Northwest.

There is a new Player Parking Lot area, with a new entrance. If you played for the Green Bay Packers, here are things you’d see while parking your car.

Players drive down this fenced area, which we imagine will be more formalized when the construction is completed.

The gates that lead into the Players Parking Lot.

First, you have to punch in your access code to make the automatic gates open.

This would be your view after going through the gates. It passes underneath the Oneida Nation Gate steps and plaza area.

The view at the other end of the tunnel.

A view of the new Players Parking lot from the South. The building to the left is the new addition added last year, which contains the weight room, players’ lounge, cafeteria, indoor practice area, and more. We’re hoping that we get a tour of this at the shareholders’ meeting in July.

Looking down at the new Players Parking Lot from the Oneida Nation Gate plaza area.

By looking at the markings on the base of the Lambeau field tower, you can see evidence of the previous steps leading up to the Atrium.

Above and below, more construction views.

A close-up view of what will be the Packers Pro Shop main entrance.

Backed up to Lombardi Avenue, an overall view of the main construction area.

That’s Lombardi Avenue to the left.

“But where are the statues of Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi through all of this?” you may ask. This photo shows that they are unceremoniously stuck by the construction offices along Lombardi Avenue.

Two famous guys await the end of the construction project. They will be reinstalled by the new stairway leading up the the Lambeau Field Atrium.

An opportunity to capture Vince Lombardi and the North end zone clock which is always on “Lombardi Time” — 15 minutes early.

Another view of the statues, looking back towards the construction project area.

A view looking to the Northeast towards the residential neighborhood along Lombardi Avenue.

Looking straight up at Lambeau Field.

While we were in Green Bay, all 2014 season ticket invoices had to be paid — by Monday, March 31st. So, letting people know that they could still access the Packers Ticket Office (above and below) was very important. We paid for our tickets online previously, but some local residents pay for theirs in person.

Walkway leading to the Packers Ticket Office.

The Packers Ticket Office, which is closed on weekends.

But, you could still drop off your ticket payment in the handy drop box.

Above and below, Lambeau Field awaits the start of the 2014 season.

Coming next: Goodbye to the Packers Pro Shop.