GREEN BAY—Surprise guest Dave Robinson stood and waved to the crowd. The towering edifice of new seats in Lambeau Field's south end zone appeared to be smiling.
Old met new at Wednesday's shareholders meeting. Not all of the Packers' 364,122 shareholders were in attendance, but their hearts were when Mark Murphy introduced Robinson as soon to become the 22nd Packers player or coach inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which will give the Packers the second-most busts in Canton, Ohio.
"We hope to pass the Bears soon," Murphy said.
Murphy, the Packers' president and CEO, was the keynote speaker at Wednesday's shareholders meeting. He painted a bright picture of the franchise's present and future. Robinson's appearance, of course, was symbolic of the Packers' glorious past.
At the south end of Lambeau Field, where Bart Starr cemented forever the franchise's greatness, 7,000 new seats validated everything Murphy said. They glistened in the sunshine that bathed Lambeau Field. What a sight it was.
The new south end zone was the silent star of Wednesday's shareholders meeting. Words really weren't necessary. It said this is where the franchise is and this is where the franchise is going. Most of all, the new south end zone seats said the franchise has never been better.
"We're going to use the revenue to continue to field a competitive team," Murphy said.
There's your dagger, as Wayne Larrivee would say. It's all about winning games and championships, and the revenue and noise those new seats in the south end zone will generate will help the Packers win both.
"Seven thousand fans improving our homefield advantage," Murphy said.
He also mentioned something about an eight percent increase in revenue. That's important, too, because it goes right to the Packers' mission statement: "Win championships and make sure the team stays in Green Bay," Murphy said.
All of the franchise's arrows were pointing up when its leaders addressed the proud shareholders that packed the east side of Lambeau Field, which now has a capacity of 80,750, third-largest in the NFL.
"We passed Dallas," Murphy said, producing a big cheer.
Murphy and General Manager Ted Thompson each acknowledged disappointment for how last season ended, but no other discouraging words were delivered. Wednesday's shareholders meeting was a true feel-good event, highlighted by the "new car" smell coming from the south end zone.
Clearly, you have to be doing something right to build something that big and that good. Clearly, you have to be doing something fantastic to be able to do both of those without using a penny of public tax money.
Thirty-eight-hundred people who had spent an average of 30 years on the Packers waiting list are smiling and so should every fan in Packer nation that measure his or her happiness according to the team's success. Be happy. The team is successful and will likely remain that way.
All of those upwardly pointing arrows, symbolized by all those new seats in the south end zone, have allowed the Packers to update the franchise's vision statement. Previously, it was to measure itself against all other NFL franchises.
"Now we measure ourselves against all professional sports. I think we measure up well," Murphy said.
The new south end zone smiled its approval. Additional coverage - Shareholders meeting