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
Despite the cold winter, construction work on the renovation of the Atrium has progressed well, and the new Packers Pro Shop, expanded Harlan Plaza and new East Gate are all scheduled to open on time in July. I'm really excited for our fans to see these improvements, which are part of a larger project that will also include a new Hall of Fame and a new restaurant, both scheduled to open next spring.
One of the main objectives of the Atrium renovation is to make it easier for our fans to access the Atrium, particularly on non-game days. Many fans entering the Atrium park on the east side of the stadium. With the previous structure, fans coming from that direction had to walk up the steps along the north side of the Atrium or enter on the south side of the Atrium. It made for a longer walk to get into the Atrium, and on busy days I think it was a reason some people decided not to visit. Also, the old structure made it less convenient for the thousands of people parking in the east lot and attending events at the Resch Center, Shopko Hall and Brown County Arena to enter the Atrium.
In order to address these concerns, we decided to build a new entrance on the east side of the Atrium. The new East Gate will be located where the previous players' parking lot and players' entrance were located. Fans entering the East Gate will be able to walk right into the new Packers Pro Shop or take an escalator up to the Atrium floor. We were concerned, though, fans would not realize they would be able to easily access the Atrium through the East Gate. We determined we needed a "beacon" to draw people's attention to the East Gate. Our project manager, Bob Dunn of Hammes Company, came up with the idea of putting a 50-foot replica of the Lombardi Trophy in the lobby of the East Gate. I couldn't imagine a better "beacon." It is obviously a symbol of the great history and tradition of the Packers, as the trophy is named after our most iconic coach. Also, it is still relevant today since the main goal of our team (and every team in the League) each year is to win the Lombardi Trophy.
I'm hopeful our fans will love this replica of the Lombardi Trophy. I anticipate many fans will take photos of the trophy, both from farther back in the parking lot near Oneida Street or from inside the lobby of the East Gate. The lobby was designed so the trophy sits in the middle, in a 60-foot-high window encasement, and there will be two separate entrances to the East Gate on either side of the trophy. Also, fans will have great views of the trophy from a number of locations in the Atrium, including a spectacular view from the bar of the new restaurant and from Coach Lombardi's office in the new Hall of Fame.
The construction of this 50-foot trophy is certainly one of the most unique projects I and the others (from the Packers, Hammes and Miron) have ever worked on. It involved many challenges and surprises along the way, but we are all very proud of the planning, coordination and work that's been done, and we're excited to see the finished product. We hope the replica of the Lombardi Trophy will be a great source of pride for Packers fans for many years to come.
Now, on to your questions:
Pat from Howard, WI
I noticed the Draft is later this year – in early May rather than in late April. Why was the Draft moved?
Thanks, Pat. The Draft was originally scheduled for its normal date in April, but Radio City Music Hall (where the Draft is held in New York City) had a conflict with a spring show this year, so it was moved to May 8-10. It will be interesting to see how the later date works for the League, the teams and fans. The Draft has become a major media event (30 million people watched the Draft last year). The League office is always looking for ways to improve events, and is considering potential changes to the Draft, including increasing it from three to four days and moving the Draft to other cities. The League will evaluate everything after this year's Draft.
Larry from Eau Claire, WI
When you look at a prospective rookie, is his sportsmanship and respect off the field something you look at as well?
With the Draft starting next Thursday night, this is a great time to answer your question, Larry. The one thing I've learned about the Draft in all my years in the NFL is that it is an inexact science. Many top picks end up being busts, and every year there are numerous undrafted free agents who make teams. To answer your question, I would say, yes, we consider everything. Ted Thompson and his staff do an excellent job of getting a complete picture of not only potential draft picks, but also players we might want to sign after the draft. They will talk to coaches, trainers, equipment managers and anyone who can give them information on a prospect. The quality and character of each player is very important to us. We are very pleased with the current chemistry in our locker room and want to bring in players who will fit in well. I believe character is especially important in a smaller community such as Green Bay.
Sara from Falls Church, VA
What player had the most influence on you during your NFL career?
Great question, Sara. I assume you are a Redskins fan as well as a Packers fan. I was very fortunate during my career to play with many great players, from the George Allen teams through the Joe Gibbs era with the Redskins. The one player who stood out, though, and had the most influence on my career is Kenny Houston. Not only was he a great player (he's in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and held the NFL record for most interceptions returned for a touchdown), he's an even better person. Kenny and I both played safety (he was a strong safety and I played free safety), and we played together for five seasons (the last three as the starting safeties). I learned a lot just watching how Kenny handled himself both on and off the field. He was also always willing to answer any questions I had, and also shared tips to help me improve as a player. He was especially helpful when we played together, and it was very reassuring as a young player to know Kenny had my back. Kenny was a key factor in any success I enjoyed in my career. Kenny's career ended in 1981. I always regretted that he wasn't able to be a part of the Redskins Super Bowl Championship in 1982.
Kyra from Plainview, MN
I am 10 years old and have been a Packers fan all my life. My question to you is how can I get a tour of Lambeau Field and be able to go on the turf and see the locker room? I have never been there and that is my dream. Thank you for your help.
"There was an old man from Green Bay,
Who watched his team on the field of play.
When the autumn turned cold,
He wore green and gold.
To dream of a victory on Super Bowl Day"
Written by Kyra and her Grandpa Bob.
First, Kyra, thanks for sharing the Packers poem. Very impressive for a 10-year-old! With regard to tours, we have multiple tours available on most days, except there are no tours on game days. You can get more tour information by calling 920-569-7513, or by going to our website at**www.Packers.com**. For me, the highlight of the tours is when you walk down the tunnel to the field, just as our players do on game day. The tours do not include visits to the Packers locker room, but the Legendary Tour includes a visit to the visiting team's locker room. Thanks for your support of the Packers, Kyra, and I hope your dream comes true this year and you can visit Lambeau Field. Please take Grandpa Bob with you.
Rodrigo from Brazil
I am an ardent Packers fan who lives in Brazil, but I am not the only one. I would like to know your opinion about this question: What do you think about some of the Packers players making a visit to Brazil to promote the team and the brand? I believe it is a great opportunity to expand the brand in a country where there are many fans of this sport and of the Packers.* *
Thanks, Rodrigo, for your loyal support of the Packers. I know we have a lot of international fans, especially in Europe, and appreciate you spreading the excitement for the Packers into South America. We don't anticipate a trip to South America anytime soon, but there's a chance we will play a game in London within the next few years (the League will play three games in London this year and may play more in the future). We currently have Packers Everywhere bars in both Columbia and Ecuador. Rodrigo, maybe you can sign up a bar with Packers Everywhere in Brazil?