On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at: *MurphyTakes5@packers.com.*
Canton is certainly the place to be this weekend for Packers fans. With Brett Favre's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday night and the Packers playing in the Hall of Fame Game Sunday night, our fans will be able to get the NFL season off to a fast start. In addition, former Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene will be inducted Saturday evening. He will be presented by Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers. It will be special for Dom. Dom coached Kevin in both Pittsburgh and Carolina, in addition to coaching with him here. It marks his first official appearance in Canton, after a highly successful, long coaching career in the NFL. Dom went to school at Mt. Union, about 20 minutes from Canton. I've been fortunate enough to attend the Hall of Fame activities for two of the last three years (for the Dave Robinson and Ron Wolf inductions). Canton, like Green Bay, is really a special place for football fans.
Last year, I saw how Steelers fans took over the city for Jerome Bettis' induction. Pittsburgh is just over a two-hour drive from Canton, and Steelers fans took advantage of the proximity to show up in full force. Given what Brett has meant to the organization and the special connection he had with our fans, I expect Canton will be awash in green and gold this weekend (even though it's a long drive from Wisconsin to Canton). Our team is flying out for the game Saturday afternoon. They're staying in Cleveland, and over 30 players, coaches and staff members will bus down to Canton to see Brett and Kevin be inducted. Also, I know that many of Brett's teammates will be in Canton for the ceremony. In addition to the induction and game, there was a Tim McGraw concert Friday night, a parade Saturday morning and a Packers Everywhere Pep Rally Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Whiskey Ranch with LeRoy Butler, Mark Chmura, Robert Ferguson, Antonio Freeman, William Henderson and Marco Rivera. I look forward to seeing many Packers fans this weekend. It is a historic and exciting moment for Brett, our fans and the organization.
Now, on to your questions:
Joshua from Collegeville, MN
Mark, as a part of the Packers' front office, what are you looking forward to the most for next season?
I'm excited about the season generally, Joshua, and think we can have a very good season. I'm especially excited, though, for our game at Minnesota on Sept. 18. It will be the first regular-season game in the Vikings' spectacular new U.S. Bank Stadium and nationally televised in prime time on NBC. Most importantly, though, it will be an opportunity for some payback for the Vikings victory over us in 2003 in the first game in the newly renovated Lambeau Field, and, of course, for their win in last year's final regular-season game.
Matt from Mukwonago, WI
Mark, what is the status of the season ticket holder waiting list?
Thanks for asking, Matt. Our ticket waiting list is at 128,000 as of the start of training camp. This year, 99.6 percent of our season-ticket holders (green and gold package) opted to renew. The available tickets due to non-renewals, combined with approximately 1,000 tickets transferred from the Brown County resident program, totaled nearly 2,200. Those tickets have been allocated to 714 new season-ticket holders (an average of 3.1 tickets per account). Not everyone on the waiting list opts to become a ticket holder; this year we had a 79 percent acceptance rate (we offered to just over 900 people on the list).
Chuck from Rockford, IL
Mark, would it be possible to add more seating in the stadium? If so, how many could be added? Since the season-ticket waiting list is well over 100,000, it would seem to be a sensible situation on a lot of different levels. Also, do you know of any other teams where the list is so large?
Not easily, Chuck. In the 2003 renovation, the south end zone was designed so that we could add seats above the lower level in the future. This made the south end zone expansion in 2013 relatively simple. We have, though, experimented with standing room only (SRO) tickets in the fourth level of the south end zone the last couple of years. The experiments have been successful, and I could see an increase in the number of SRO tickets in the coming years. With open concourses, the south loft and 14 viewing platforms, the south end zone offers good opportunities for SRO tickets. We currently have the second-largest capacity in the league (behind Met Life Stadium) and many teams are reducing their seating capacity, so I would be hesitant to add too many seats as we want to ensure that the demand for our tickets remains high. As noted above, our waiting list is 128,000. I don't think there is another franchise that has a waiting list anywhere close to ours (although, to be fair, several teams charge money for being on the waiting list, and this keeps the number down). We are very fortunate to have the great support of our fans. Chuck, I know you will be pulling for Dean Lowry, our fourth-round pick out of Northwestern, to do well in camp, as he is also from Rockford.
Bill from St. Paul, MN
Mark, thanks for the terrific column you write every month and your service to the Packers' organization. I have a question that goes back to one of the wildest football games I ever saw – the Monday Night game in 1983 when the Lynn Dickey-led Packers played the (eventual Super Bowl champion) Joe Theisman-led Washington Redskins at Lambeau Field, of which you were a member of the Redskins' defensive backfield. Besides probably being extremely tired after the 48-47 final score, do you have any interesting recollections of that game you can share with us we might not know otherwise? Thank you again, and Go Packers! Regards.
I have very similar memories of the game as you, Bill. It was probably the craziest, most exciting game that I played in during my career. I know it was not a good game to be a defensive player! During the broadcast, Dandy Don Meredith proclaimed "First one to 50 wins." The atmosphere in the stadium was electric, and it reminded me more of a collegiate atmosphere than a typical NFL game. I also have a vivid memory of the hotel in Appleton that we stayed in the night before the game. It was a Holidome, which had a dome (or Atrium) in the middle of the hotel, and I had never seen a structure like that before. During my first week with the Packers in 2007, I took a tour of Lambeau Field and noticed several photos from this game throughout the stadium, touting the "Monday Night Thriller." I threatened to take them all down! Seriously, it was one of the best games in NFL history (the Redskins were defending Super Bowl champions and in the middle of a 14-2 season and went back to the Super Bowl in 1983), and I was honored to play in it. The game came right down to the last play, when Redskins kicker Mark Moseley (the NFL MVP in 1982 and one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history), missed a 39-yard field goal.
Scotty Christ, Owatonna, MN
Mark, I'm originally a Wisconsinite…I was misplaced in Minnesota as a young kid. For a while, dad would bring us home to Eau Claire every weekend to watch the game with Grandpa, and then he passed. It was Grandma who put the Packers pride in me. She went to school in Altoona, and dated Fuzzy Thurston after she graduated. I since have gotten a Packers tattoo, the helmet, and I own 56 hand-stitched jerseys of your wonderful men.
My question is, I am not a stockholder yet and I'm dying to be. When will my number come up? Lord knows that it will be sooner that season tickets. But, is it coming? Sure you may be sitting well off financially right now. But, maybe for a guy who gets crappy coverage over here in this damn purple and gold state? Help, Mark! It's with such honor to be able to write to you! With deep sincerity and admiration.
Thanks, Scotty. I love the story about your father driving you to Eau Claire. No DirecTV Sunday Ticket back then. I wish I had better news for you regarding our next stock sale. Under league policy, we need permission in order to conduct a stock sale, and all of the proceeds must go into the stadium. This is because other teams cannot conduct stock sales and the league doesn't want the Packers to have a competitive advantage (for instance, using the proceeds to pay coaches' salaries or other annual expenses). In our 98-year history, we have only held five stock sales, and the sales have been either to save the franchise in Green Bay or, more recently, for major renovations. The next stock sale would most likely take place as part of the next major renovation to Lambeau Field many years down the road.