It never fails. Whenever someone mentions the mystique of Lambeau Field, cherished memories usually dominate the conversation. Lately, however, those cherished memories have taken on a whole new meaning.
The redevelopment of Lambeau Field and addition of the Lambeau Field Atrium, which was completed in September 2003, has given fans the opportunity to create their own memories in one of the most storied venues in the world. Events such as weddings, corporate meetings and retirement parties are all now common occurrences at 1265 Lombardi Avenue.
Revenue generated from the Atrium is invested back into the team, helping pay for tools such as the latest technology in sports video. It also helps solidify the corporate reserve fund, which also could aid the team if a financial crisis would ever occur.
According to Dee Geurts-Bengtson, the Packers executive of special events, Lambeau Field is no longer just a destination for 10 football games each year. It now operates for 365 days a year and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Midwest.
Geurts-Bengtson said that the Lambeau Field Atrium is such a hit that there are events booked through 2010 and weekends are also filling up fast.
"We have weddings booked now all the way through October 2005," Geurts-Bengtson said. "The only Saturdays that aren't gone are August Saturdays and I can't book those yet because those might be potential preseason games."
The Atrium is perfectly suited for all types of special events with rooms to fit groups from 25 to 1,100, but according to Geurts-Bengtson, corporate meetings and weddings are the most popular.
"The corporate market has been extremely lucrative for us just because the corporate market books so many meetings, but the social market has been wonderful to us as well with weddings, rehearsal dinners and retirement parties," Geurts-Bengtson explained.
Of course, the uniqueness of Lambeau Field makes every event a memorable one, but Geurts-Bengtson said weddings just might garner the most attention.
"One of the primary questions I ask when I sell the space for weddings is, 'Isn't Lambeau Field going to be a great place to tell your children and grandchildren you got married?' Geurts-Bengtson said.
"More and more couples are not only having their reception and dinner here, but also their wedding ceremony as well. The club level is gorgeous and to have the opportunity to have your pictures taken overlooking Lambeau Field is just an incredible selling point for weddings. It makes those very memorable."
Although its uniqueness in Green Bay and Wisconsin speaks for itself, Geurts-Bengtson has been busy getting the word out nationally to potential customers that Lambeau Field is no longer a destination only for football games.
She recently traveled to Denver in July for Meeting Planners International and to Minneapolis in August for the American Society of Association Executives.
"The purpose of doing that is to let the buying public, meeting planners and association executives from all over the country know the existence of the Lambeau Field Atrium and the ability to hold events here. Their business has the potential to bring tremendous amounts of revenue into not only Green Bay, but the entire state," Geurts-Bengtson said.
"We had a display booth designed specifically for the Lambeau Field Atrium, which promotes the opportunity to do events here. It's just a great booth display showing old time photos of the Green Bay Packers and Vince Lombardi."
According to Geurts-Bengtson, there were approximately 1500 potential customers at the trade shows in Denver and Minneapolis, and Lambeau Field was very popular.
"I had a giveaway at each of the shows," Geurts-Bengtson said. "I gave away these Lambeau Field Kleenex boxes, which were a big hit. I also took business cards and sent out sales kits to those who wanted to receive further information.
"As a result of those shows in July and August, I have booked five pieces of business. Right now those five pieces of business have the potential of generating about $55,500."
Geurts-Bengtson said the association market -- such as the Meeting Planners International and the American Society of Association Executives -- is growing in popularity because the more the Lambeau Field Atrium gets known nationally the more interest there is in holding conventions.
"When these conventions are in Green Bay, one of the primary reasons they are held in this area is because of Lambeau Field," Guerts-Bengtson said. "So certainly once they hear of our existence and our ability to do events here, they are anxious to book events with us."
Geurts-Bengtson said Safari International is committed until 2008, although they have yet to experience what it's like to hold the event at the Lambeau Field Atrium.
"The Safari International is doing their first trade show here in February," Geurts-Bengtson said. "Their response was, 'once we come here, how are we ever going to top it. We might as well book it for the future because we could never top it.'
"Mills Fleet Farm did their huge fall trade show here and now they're also doing their spring show here as well," Guerts-Bengtson added. "They now have their spring and fall shows booked with us until 2008. The trade shows do very well here."
Obviously, the Lambeau Field Atrium has been a huge success for several reasons, but did anyone think it would come this quickly? Geurts-Bengtson says the answer is yes and no.
"I would say there definitely was this feeling that it was going to be successful because obviously it's one of the greatest and well known venues in the world," Geurts-Bengtson explained. "Before the Atrium even existed you knew it was going to be a hit because there were instances where wedding parties were pulling up just to have their pictures taken in the parking lot."
"So there always was this feeling that special events were going to be successful because it wouldn't have been developed in the first place if they didn't see that there already was a market for it. But it certainly has exceeded everyone's expectations."
Just when you thought Lambeau Field couldn't get any better, it now thrives 365 days a year. If that doesn't tell you what the aura of the Green Bay Packers means to fans, nothing will.
For more information on events at the Lambeau Field Atrium, click here.