The Green Bay Packers have sold out every single home game in Green Bay since 1960, which is easily the longest streak in the NFL. This is despite the often-frigid conditions the stadium endures, the team’s 29-year championship drought from 1968-1995, and the fact that the team is in the smallest city in the NFL (104,000 people).
The fans never waiver. In fact, the cold temperatures at Lambeau Field and the small-town connection are a source of pride for the fans. It’s not uncommon to see blaze-orange coveralls (used for deer hunting) in the stands to protect protect from the cold, although it’s also not uncommon to see fans shirtless or in bikinis, even with the snow falling. Generations ago, you’d see a spattering of hunters-red out in those stands as breath poured from the thousands of freezing fans.
Sounds like somewhere you’d like to get season tickets right?
Well, if you don’t have season tickets now, don’t hold your breath. In 2011, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel estimated the season ticket waiting list to actually be a 955 year wait — and that’s if you bought your tickets eight years ago. So, yeah.
The Packers are, famously, the only community-owned professional sports franchise in America. Only Packers fans can say “we” when talking about their team and actually, literally, mean it. The fans ensure that this team, despite residing in–by far–the smallest city in the league, will never leave Green Bay (unlike the Rams that recently left St. Louis for the more-desirable Los Angeles market). And the fans have saved this team from certain demise numerous times through community organization and stock sales that bring no dividend to the fans — other than their team staying put.
Currently, the team has 360,584 stockholders and no one is allowed to own more than 200,000 shares (or 4%), so the team will never have anything close to a majority owner. Owners don’t just live in Green Bay or Wisconsin though. Many live all over the country, and world. Other franchises claim to be a “nation” but the Packers can claim that with more authority than most.
Thus, Packers fans do not just cram Lambeau Field with green and gold each Sunday, their fans are known for traveling at historically impressive rates.
Often times getting tickets to a Packers road game is significantly easier than catching the team play at home. Any time the Packers are playing a road game you will see green and gold. Sometimes you’ll hear a “Go Pack Go” chant in enemy territory. It’s beautiful. These fans can simply not get enough of their team, no matter where they live.
There are hundreds of “Packers Bars” scattered around the country in countless cities as well. No matter where you are you can always find fellow Packers fans on Sunday.
The franchise is also extremely conscious about it’s history with the Native American population that resides in the Green Bay and around the state. The Oneida Tribe, with a reservation in Green Bay, is full of Packers fans. Lambeau Field even has a special “Oneida Nation Gate” to honor these native peoples and their local businesses. In fact, some of the very first professional football players in Green Bay, that were paid, were Oneida people.
The Packers organization is keenly-aware of its importance to Green Bay, and it’s surrounding communities, and the history it shares with it. Lambeau Field is the economic, entertainment and social backbone of the entire region, but it hasn’t forgotten the people that helped the franchise thrive over the last 100 years.
It is true that the fans mean everything to this organization.
Interestingly, the Packers are one of the few appropriately-named franchises in the NFL, along with the Steelers, Cowboys, Patriots, 49ers, and to a lesser-extent Vikings (for Minnesota’s especially Nordic heritage). The Packers’ name derives from Green Bay’s extensive meat-packing industry that was quite strong in the days of the franchise’s formation. Although blue-collar workers still dominate Green Bay’s metropolitan area, today.
The connection between Green Bay, and all of Wisconsin, and the Packers grows stronger with each passing year.
Fittingly, the most famous touchdown celebration in the NFL involves the Packers and their fans — the Lambeau Leap (invented by LeRoy Butler in 1993). It symbolizes the unique bond between this team and it’s fans. Their joy truly is shared.
Although the players riding the neighborhood children’s bikes during training camp from the locker room to Nitschke Field is, perhaps, the most special interaction between this team and it’s millions of fans.
That act perennially instills the next generation of fans, and players, with a sense of belonging to the Packers community. No one is bigger than anyone else, fan or player.
Another interesting note about Packers fans is that only two men have statues outside of Lambeau Field — Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi. None of the other countless greats have statues, but the fans do. That’s right, the newest statue outside of Lambeau Field is one of the fans, where Packer-Backers can jump between four bronzed fans simulating a “Lambeau Leap” of their own. Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Brett Favre, none of these men have statues — but the fans do.
It’s truly extraordinary.
In reality, the fans do deserve a statue more than any one player though. They have, literally, kept the team afloat financially numerous times over the last century. What other professional sports team in America has been saved by it’s fans multiple times?
Each year the fans show up for “Family Night” an annual scrimmage before the season begins. It’s not uncommon for more than 60,000 people to show up for the intra-squad match. The occasion has even been known to sell-out. Tell me, what other fans love their team this much?
But the thing that Packers fans might be known best for is their unrivaled tailgating. Packers fans know how to grill and how to drink with the best of them. The pre-game festivities in the parking lots around Lambeau Field are the stuff of legend. Green Bay, although a professional team, still brings the excitement of a college football atmosphere each week.
However the cheeseheads that Packers fans proudly wear (with no regard for how goofy it looks) is quite a distinctive site. What started as an insult from fans in Chicago became a source of pride — a nod to the state’s extensive history of dairy farming.
Amazingly, that ridiculous hunk of cheese clearly signifies that “I am a fan of the 13-time World Champion Green Bay Packers.”
What else needs to be said?