Yours truly has had the pleasure of visiting Green Bay just once, and that was several years ago. It was in the fall -- color change time -- and my ex and I were touring the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Beautiful country, but they can have all that snow in the winter. Brrr.
At any rate, after spending a couple days in Copper Harbor, we were heading south, not knowing exactly what our next destination was. When travelling by car and already at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, going south is pretty much the only option, unless one wants to sleep with the fishes and boatwrecks in Lake Superior.
Eventually, we saw a road sign that said "go this way to Green Bay", or something like that. A look and nods were exchanged, and the deal was done. In a couple more hours we were in Green Bay. Green Bay isn't exactly Chicago, LA, San Fran, or NYC when it comes to things going on. So of course we wanted to check out Lambeau Field, home of the Packers.
Two tourists wandering around the outside of the stadium with a camcorder. And here came a security guard on a scooter. Uh-oh, we're busted. But quite the opposite happened. After explaining, the guard told us to hop on his scooter and gave a guided tour all around the stadium, pointing out all kind of interesting stuff. He couldn't let us inside because the Packers were practicing at the time. This was when Brett Favre was still their QB. But he glanced at his watch and informed us practice would be breaking up shortly, and took us to the gate where the players would come out. He said they were really good about associating with fans, signing autographs, and the like. And sure enough, right on cue, out they came. Though we weren't much into autographs, many of the players were definitely willing to briefly chat before they headed out to their vehicles and drove away. All in all, a very cool day. I'll never forget the hospitality that security guard showed a couple dumb-ass tourists from Michigan. However, it wasn't until later that something dawned on me. Why were we the only two people greeting the players as they exited the stadium? Never have figured that out.
After all, no town is more football crazy per capita than Green Bay. Though far and away the NFLs smallest market, those people were, and remain absolutely bonkers over their Packers. And good for them. Who are these people? Let's look a little closer.
Green Bay has a population of roughly 105,000.
49% male, 51% female.
Somewhat surprisingly, the average age is around 34 years old.
Not so surprising is the average household income. Around $40,000.
Per capita, the average is $24,000. Lots of working couples in Green Bay.
Average value of a house or condo is around $140,000.
There's nothing particularly eye-opening about any of the above. It just sounds about average.
But when it comes to getting season tickets to the Packers is where things get crazy.
As mentioned above, though the smallest market, after recent additions, Lambeau Field has the third highest seating capacity in the NFL, barely trailing only those of the Redskins in Maryland and the NY Giants/Jets in New Jersey. All are above 80,000.
So if Lambeau can accommodate 80,000 and the whole town is only 105,000, one might think there's plenty of tickets to go around. One couldn't be more wrong.
The waiting list for season tickets at Lambeau Field has over 111,000 names on it. When Cheeser babies first pop out of the womb, their parents typically put them on the list. Why? Because the average waiting time to get season tickets is over 30 years. Incredible.
Recently, a Packers fan finally got his tickets. He'd been on the list for 37 years. That goes back to when Jimmy Carter was President. The Shah was still in charge in Iran. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson hadn't even played against each other in college yet. Before home computers, let alone laptops and iPads. Homes had rotary phones. There was no cable TV or dishes. If you were watching the boobtube, you had an antenna on your roof. Happy Days was the #1 rated TV show. How long ago does that seem?
And after 37 years, his tickets didn't exactly come cheap. He had to pay $4200 for the "right" to buy them. Then $2380 per season for two tickets to seven games. Or $170 bucks a pop for two seats in Row 41 of the endzone. Yes, NFL teams play eight "home" games, but the Packers always play one in Milwaukee. That's a whole different "get in line" deal.
Nevertheless, this raises an interesting question. If after waiting 37 years, this poor devil could only get seats in Row 41, then who are all those young folks in the front row catching players when they do the "Lambeau leap"?
Hmm. Maybe this explains why the average age in Green Bay is 34. They're getting rid of all the old folks so they can inherit their season tickets. Even the Packers front office has acknowledged that rightfully earning front row season tickets the old-fashioned way -- by gradually moving up over time -- would require someone to live to be over 950 years old. That's some seriously aged cheese.
You'll remember they called the movie Soylent Green. Not blue, red, yellow or purple. Green. And that came out just before the 37 year man first signed up for tickets. Heck, the name "Packers" itself originated with a canned meat company. Food for thought. Ahem.
Maybe I'll make it back to Green Bay someday -- or maybe not. But I'll always remember two things.
The security guard, bless his heart wherever he is, and Lambeau wasn't the only stop. Green Bay actually had a Harley dealership. If memory serves me correctly, I believe it was called McCoy's. So being a long time rider, I had to get a shirt. Haven't seen it in a while either, but it's gotta be in a drawer or closet around here somewhere with all the rest of them.
So enough with this nonsense. I now have a mission. Find the Green Bay shirt and wear it tomorrow.
They're not the only ones with a passion......