Fans take in the view from their new seats in the new south end zone. VIEW PHOTO GALLERY
GREEN BAY—The ribbon was cut and the doors were opened on the new south end zone on Thursday. All that's left is to find out how much louder Lambeau Field will become.
As Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy officially opened the new Shopko Gate to the renovated south end zone for a "Meet Your Seat" event for the area's ticket holders, he touched on the biggest remaining curiosity – the impact the "Wall of Sound," which closes off Lambeau's south end and adds roughly 7,000 outdoor voices, might have on the Packers' home-field advantage.
"Last year, when there were no fans in the end zone (during construction), players commented to me about how much louder it was already," Murphy said. "We're excited about the 'Wall of Sound.'"
The opening of the south end zone completes a three-year stadium improvement project that saw the Packers add a new sound system in the seating bowl in 2011 and new video boards and premium-seating gate in 2012. Of the $146 million needed for the entire project, $64 million came from the team's stock sale in late 2011.
"We can't thank our fans enough," said Murphy, who was joined on stage for the ribbon-cutting by several state and local dignitaries, including Gov. Scott Walker.
Walker called Lambeau Field a "mecca" and a "world-class attraction," complimenting the Packers on making the renovations "an improvement and not a distraction."
That was one of the goals from the outset, continuing a process begun during the stadium's 2003 renovation.
"One of the things we're really proud of is we think we've done it in a way that ties into and builds on the great history and tradition of Lambeau Field," Murphy said. "We're really pleased with it."
The additional 7,000 seats vault Lambeau Field ahead of Cowboys Stadium and into third place on the list of the NFL's largest stadiums, behind only FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., and MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
"It's pretty impressive for by far the smallest community in the NFL to have the third-largest stadium," Murphy said. "We're fully confident we'll fill those seats."
The process of filling them – with a combination of new season-ticket holders and previous ones who changed locations to the new area, opening up seats in the stadium bowl – removed 3,800 names from the Packers' lengthy season-ticket waiting list.
Economically, Murphy pointed out the project created 2,000 jobs and $70 million in wages, adding that major portions of the work were done by area companies – 40 percent from Brown County, 70 percent from northeastern Wisconsin and 92 percent from within the state.
The new south end zone is also projected to generate an annual $12 million economic impact, the equivalent of an extra home game each season.
"This gives our fans unique seating and viewing options, unlike anything we have in the stadium now," Murphy said. "We really think we've created something very special." Additional coverage
- Photo Gallery - Packers celebrate New South End with ribbon cutting
- "Meet your seat" - She waited four decades, but she finally has her seat