On a peaceful summer evening, in front of the stadium he helped save, in the presence of more than 200 fans, friends and family, Packers president/CEO Bob Harlan was honored with a permanent place at Lambeau Field.
Tuesday, the courtyard at the stadium's northeast corner -- which includes the statues of Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi, and leads to the main entrance of the Lambeau Field Atrium -- was dedicated Robert E. Harlan Plaza.
"For someone who gets choked up every Sunday when the Packers run out of the tunnel, this is just a huge, huge occasion for me," Harlan said.
The singular honor recognizes a man whose leadership has not only helped the Packers regain greatness on the football field, as evidenced by two Super Bowl appearances during his tenure, but has taken the organization to unseen heights off the field as well, highlighted by the $295 million redevelopment of Lambeau Field, which not only preserves the stadium, but makes it a year-round tourist destination.
The Packers executive committee last fall proposed the plaza dedication, which is marked by a plaque featured between the recently installed and unveiled statues of Lambeau and Lombardi.
Harlan said the shock of the gesture has worn off since then, but claimed that "the extreme pride will last forever."
"I'm flattered, I'm humbled, I'm honored, I'm thrilled and I'm very appreciative," Harlan said. "I am deeply touched to be a permanent part of Lambeau Field and I am very, very appreciative that I can share in a small way, this area with Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi, the two finest gentlemen, the two most important gentlemen, that ever represented this great franchise."
Executive committee members John Fabry and Don Harden each recognized Harlan at Tuesday's ceremony, as did executive director of public relations Lee Remmel, who spoke of the president's steadfast allegiance to the Packers organization.
"In more than 30 years around him, I have never known Bob Harlan to make any decision that was not based solely on what was best for the Green Bay Packers and for their fans, whom he has always treated with the utmost respect," Remmel said.
"Tomorrow Bob Harlan will be back in his fourth-floor office with his door open, as usual, and answering his own telephone, as usual. But today, with the dedication of the Robert E. Harlan Plaza, he formally takes his rightful place alongside Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi, among the giants in Packers history."
The plaque recognizing Harlan reads as follows:
Robert E. (Bob) Harlan, the ninth president in Packers history, played a central role in orchestrating the $295 million Lambeau Field redevelopment, first unveiled in 2000 and completed at the start of the 2003 season. Harlan's unwavering leadership and vision for the project helped ensure the club's long-term financial viability, while persevering the hallowed history and tradition of the Packers' storied venue. The transformation of Lambeau Field into a year-round destination venue was also in line with the fan-friendly approach characteristic of the genial Harlan. Earlier he had been the catalyst in restoring the Packers to competitive heights with the inspired 1991 hiring of Ron Wolf to oversee the team's football operations, a move crowned by back-to-back appearances in Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII, including Green Bay's first league championship in 29 years during the 1996 season. Harlan also spurred other club-building efforts including the 1994 construction of the Don Hutson Center indoor practice facility. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, and a Marquette graduate, Harlan initially joined the Packers in 1971 as assistant general manager and later became the organization's first ever CEO to come up through the ranks when he was elected president in 1989.