Murphy Takes 5 is a monthly column written by President and CEO Mark Murphy. 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
For the last three years, cranes have been a constant sight at Lambeau Field. The initial phase of work was all in the stadium, and was driven by our desire to improve the fan experience. In 2011, we added a new sound system. Last year, we added two new HD video boards, the Bellin Health Gate and the North Loft. This year, we added 7,000 new seats in the South End Zone and opened the Shopko Gate. Over the next two years, we will finalize the overall project with a major renovation of the Atrium. Again, the main goal of the Atrium renovation is to improve the experience of our fans when they visit Lambeau Field. The Atrium renovation will include a new gate on the east side of the Atrium (with direct access to the Atrium floor by an escalator), a new Pro Shop twice the size of the current one (all on one floor on the lower level), a new Hall of Fame located in the back of the Atrium and on the second floor, and a new restaurant located in the current Pro Shop location.
With the addition of the new gate on the east side of the Atrium, we were forced to move a number of our football facilities. The new east gate will be located where the current entrance is located. As a result, we will move the players' parking lot, the players' entrance and the team dining area. The first step to accommodate these areas was to expand the steps at the Oneida Nation Gate. The team dining area, as well as the player development area and the player lounge, will be located under the steps.
The move of these football facilities presented us with a chance to improve the facilities. We also decided to use the renovation as an opportunity to move and improve other football facilities. The new team dining area will be considerably larger than the old area and will be large enough to host our postgame receptions for players and their families.
The improved facilities include a new weight room, with more space, no columns and higher ceilings. We're very excited about the impact of a new Conditioning, Rehabilitation and Instructional Center ("CRIC"). The CRIC will have an artificial FieldTurf surface and have a marked 35-yard field. We think a facility like the CRIC will help us better prepare our players for the season. Technology will be a big part of the new facilities. Most of the new facilities, including the weight room and the CRIC, will feature improved and updated technology. Also, the CRIC is designed so that it can be easily expanded to become our new indoor practice facility when, in the future, the Hutson Center needs to be replaced.
We had hoped to move into the new facilities during the bye week. Unfortunately, the League didn't help us in this regard, by giving us a bye in Week 4. We tried to have all the work done by the bye, but it just wasn't feasible. Instead, the team will move into the new areas later in the season.
I'm really excited about the impact of these new facilities. We currently have facilities that are among the best in the League, but these new facilities should take us to a whole new level. We also want to continue to improve the stadium and our facilities, and leave the organization in better shape than we found it. Most importantly, these new facilities also will help us continue to field championship-caliber teams.
Now, on to your questions:
A question from John
Mark, what if the 'G' on the helmet not only meant "Green" for Green Bay? What if we could claim that the Green Bay Packers were the greenest team in the NFL? Can the building costs and utility costs be driven down further with the use of new products such as LED lights, solar panels, wind power, rain collection, and computer controlled systems?
Great question, John. We are working to make the Packers green in all areas. In 2008, we launched "Green Team", which is an initiative that focuses on using renewable resources and other sustainable practices on gameday and every day at Lambeau Field. Recycling at Lambeau Field is a big part of the initiative. There are several recycling containers inside and outside of the stadium for fans to use. Our effort to increase awareness in recent years has increased the amount of recycling. During the 2012 season, approximately 88 percent of what was discarded at Lambeau Field was recycled. Throughout our facilities we use efficient lighting, temperature and water controls, sustainable packaging in the Pro Shop and waste reduction practices in Curly's Pub and gameday concession areas. Another part of the Green Team initiative is the program First Downs for Trees. The program donates trees to participating Brown County communities based on the number of first downs achieved. Since the 2010 season, the program has planted more than 2,000 trees that will provide total lifetime benefits of more than $9 million through storm-water runoff reduction, carbon dioxide reduction, energy savings, air quality improvement and property value increase. We continue to explore other green initiatives, as well.
Donny from Houghton Lake, MI
I love the sport of football. And even more so when I get to see the Packers play. I am a senior at Houghton Lake High School. My question is: I am about 5-foot-11 and 275 pounds (not all fat). What are the odds of me going straight from high school to play for your team?
Donny, there is absolutely no chance that you will be able to go straight from high school to the Green Bay Packers. This has nothing to do with your playing ability. For a number of years now, the NFL has had a rule in place that a player isn't eligible to play in the NFL until 3 years after his high school class graduates. Interestingly, with the current pressure to pay college athletes, some college administrators are saying that if athletes have no interest in college, they should be able to turn pro right out of high school. That is presently the case in several sports. I think the 3-year rule has worked well in the NFL. Playing in the NFL requires a physical maturity that very few high school players possess. The current "1-year rule" in the NBA, in my opinion, has made a mockery of college basketball. The NBA should allow high school players to go straight from high school to the NBA.
Jacob from River Falls, WI
How much does the Packers organization take into account the direction the League is headed, with the player safety movement? Specifically, has there been extra "coaching" sessions that teach coaches how to instruct players to avoid late hits and fines, and how to deal with them if they do occur? It has to be frustrating for a player who has played a certain way his whole life to be told he has to do it differently from now on, and if he doesn't he will be punished.
Great question, Jacob. With all the rules changes in recent years, it is a challenge for players and coaches to keep up not only with the rules, but how they will be enforced. The NFL does a good job in helping with this process. On several occasions throughout the year, the NFL Officiating Department will send out video explaining the rules and giving examples of the legal and illegal ways to make certain plays. Ultimately, though, it is the responsibility of the players to know and follow the rules, and the coaches must do a good job educating them. In recent years, the League has made player safety a top priority. The officials are instructed to err on the side of safety. So, if a hit is questionable at all, officials will throw a flag. Players and coaches must be aware of this emphasis and adjust their play.
Greg from Racine, WI
As a Madison Alum and lifelong Wisconsin resident, I enjoy Saturday's Badgers games and then other Big 10 matchups and top 20 NCAA games. Do you spend Saturdays with college games, which teams do you follow, and do you make it to any, or is there too much going on the day before a Packers game?
Greg, like you, I'm a big college football fan. I love the traditions and variety of playing styles in college football. Having played football at Colgate, and having worked as the athletic director at both Colgate and Northwestern, I follow both of those programs closely. It is much easier to follow Northwestern games, especially with the Big 10 Network, and I've enjoyed their recent run of success. I've attended a couple of Northwestern games over the last few years. With our team travel on Saturdays to away games, it is hard to watch many games on TV. Having worked in the Big 10 for five years, I know many of the coaches and administrators and especially enjoy watching Big 10 games. I've become a Badgers fan and I'm excited to see how the program progresses under Coach Gary Anderson's leadership. My son, Brian, played football at Amherst College from 2007-10. I loved watching his games and tried to make as many as possible, especially during his senior year.
Tawnya from Woburn, MA
I'll be attending my first Packers home game against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football on Nov 4! My question is what else in the area should I be sure to experience while in the historical town of Green Bay?
I'm excited for you to see your first game at Lambeau Field, Tawnya. And a Bears game on Monday night, the atmosphere should be electric! Lambeau Field is an iconic stadium. It is the football equivalent of Fenway Park. Coming from Boston, I'm sure you appreciate the great history of Fenway. I would suggest that you arrive on Sunday and take a tour of Lambeau Field and visit our Hall of Fame. You should also head to the Neville Museum. From there, you can take a walking tour of the Packers Heritage Trail. There are 17 plaques in downtown Green Bay that highlight the important places in Packers history. The Heritage Trail is modeled after the Freedom Trail in Boston. At the corner of Washington Avenue and Cherry Street, on the east side of the river, you'll see the Packers Heritage Trail monument that celebrates the Lambeau and Lombardi eras. Finally, I recommend that you have dinner at the Union Hotel restaurant (in De Pere) on Sunday night. Many Packers players and coaches would eat at the Union Hotel over the years, and the Hotel looks very much like it did when Lombardi was coaching the Packers. Dad Braisher, the Packers' long-time equipment manager, lived at the Union Hotel for many years.