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Hearty fans impress Packers' top brass

Annual shareholders' meeting delayed by thunderstorms, but plenty of cheers still heard


GREEN BAY – The freezing cold doesn't stop them from cheering on their favorite team during the Wisconsin winter, so a few morning thunderstorms weren't going to keep the Packers' shareholders from enjoying the annual day that's all about them.

President/CEO Mark Murphy credited the fans for their "heartiness" in waiting out the storms to attend a slightly delayed shareholders' meeting inside Lambeau Field on Thursday.

General Manager Ted Thompson was equally impressed, having looked out his office window in the morning to see "the nastiest weather."

"Lo and behold, you all are still here," Thompson told the crowd. "Even in bad weather, Lambeau Field is a cool place, and a cool place to be a Packer fan.

"I appreciate your toughness, and I hope some of your toughness rubs off on our team as well."

The crowd (approximately 8,200) was noticeably smaller than in years with better weather, but not drastically so. Most of the fans paid close attention to Thompson's football report and Murphy's president's report, the two highlight speeches.

They cheered the loudest at every mention of Brett Favre's pending induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and at every replay of the victorious Hail Mary in Detroit last season. They even let out an audible "Kuuuuuhn" chant, perhaps for the last time, when the veteran but unsigned fullback was shown in a highlight video spiking the ball after a score.

The anticipation of the coming season hung in the humid air. Murphy got the fans riled up a bit when he mentioned the upcoming Week 2 game to open Minnesota's new stadium, with a reminder that the Vikings wrecked the opener of the redeveloped Lambeau Field back in 2003.

"We have a chance to get a little payback," Murphy said to a raucous cheer.

There were some boos, too. Murphy's non-announcement that the Packers' color rush uniforms for the Thursday night game against the Bears on Oct. 20 were "under secrecy" until a later date didn't go over so well. (Murphy told reporters after the meeting the league would be announcing the color rush uniforms in two weeks.)

The fans also didn't like hearing that, after four straight years at No. 1, the Packers' gameday fan experience at Lambeau dropped to No. 2 behind the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Approximately 8,200 shareholders gathered at Lambeau Field for the annual meeting on July 21. Photos by Matt Becker and Duke Bobber,

"We beat them in the Super Bowl," Murphy said, recovering nicely.

The team's top executive announced that a new promenade would be constructed in front of Lambeau connecting Oneida St. to the the Oneida Nation Gate steps.

He also provided updates on the Titletown District development and the stadium suite renovations, which over the next two years will install adjustable windows in every suite.

"I'll be interested to see how many suite windows are open when we play a home playoff game in January," Murphy said.

Don't rule it out. In what Murphy called "the most unique business meeting in the U.S., in the world," the Packers' shareholders showed their devotion despite the weather once again.

"There's nothing like the Green Bay Packers," Thompson said, "and I don't think there's ever going to be."

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