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.*
Packers Family Night has been a popular event with our fans since it was first held 18 years ago. The event has changed and evolved over the years, though. With the addition of the Johnsonville Tailgate Village (JTV) this summer, there will be more activities for fans, especially kids, during the afternoon this year.
If you're coming to Family Night today, I would encourage you to make a day of it. The parking lot opens at 1:30 p.m., and there will be a variety of activities for kids in the JTV (and, obviously, a lot of great food including brats and sausages) and the southeast portion of the parking lot. The American Family Insurance DreamZone (located in the JTV) will host activities including a skills challenge, a toddler station, photo opportunities and more. Other afternoon options include Packers airbrush tattoos, the Oneida Nation and Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary with birds, snakes and turtles, as well as numerous sponsor tents on the promenade outside the JTV with prizes and giveaways.
Take a look back at photos from the 2016 Family Night. Photos by packers.com
The stadium gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the activities on the field start shortly thereafter. Pre-practice highlights include our 2016 highlights film (excuse the repetition), scrimmages between youth football teams, and the All-Veteran Parachute Team landing on the field.
Our players and coaches will be introduced at 7:30 p.m. and will then conduct a full practice. The practice will end at approximately 9:20 p.m., and then our players will give away their jerseys to select fans as part of Chili's "Jersey-Off-Our-Backs" promotion. And, of course, the highlight of the entire event is the spectacular fireworks and laser show.
Family Night is a great way to kick off the season. People from other teams in the league can't believe that we draw 70,000 people for this event. To me, it perfectly illustrates the tremendous passion that our fans have for the team.
Now, on to your questions….
Hal from Warwickshire, UK
As an English fan of your great Packers team and organization, will we ever see you take a trip over the pond and play on the hallowed turf of Twickenham, spiritual home of Rugby and the progenitor of American football?
**I'm often asked this question, Hal. (By the way, I do appreciate you calling me "Sir.") We would love to play a game in London, but there are two issues making it challenging. First, we do not want to give up a home game because our home games have such a big impact on the Green Bay economy. Second, our fans travel so well that teams are reluctant to give up a home game against the Packers. With the advent of variable pricing, this has become even more of an issue, as
games against the Packers are normally in the highest-priced tier. Our best chance is when we are scheduled to play against a team that is playing in a temporary stadium or is set to host a Super Bowl – as the league can require them to play a home game in London or Mexico. We are one of the very few teams that has not played overseas yet, so hopefully it will be soon. Meanwhile, we've established a good relationship with representatives from the Tottenham Hotspur football club. They came to Lambeau Field last year to gather ideas for their new stadium scheduled to open next year. **
Lynn from Utica, NY
Hi Mark, I'm wondering if the Packer organization is considering sanctions against season-ticket holders that sell all of their tickets on the resale market. I was at the Giants playoff game, and the atmosphere was fantastic! I attributed it in part to the higher number of tickets sold to the everyday fan.
First, Lynn, it's great to hear from someone from my old stomping grounds – I was born in Fulton and went to school and worked at Colgate in central New York for many years. With regard to your question, we have considered ways to incentivize season-ticket holders to either attend the games themselves or ensure that they sell to Packers fans. We looked at the Patriots' policy – they require season-ticket holders to sell to people on their waiting list, and that they sell the tickets at face value, but people have to pay an annual fee to be on the waiting list. Ultimately, we decided not to impose any sanctions against our season-ticket holders for selling to opposing teams' fans. Selling on the secondary market has become so easy and common for our fans, and I think we would receive a lot of criticism if we adopted a policy like the Patriots or the one you suggest. We can't really complain about the secondary market since so many of our fans are able to buy tickets to away games (and help create an "away-game advantage" for us). We will, though, continue to encourage people to sell to Packers fans if they are not going to use their tickets.
Louis from Warrington, UK
Although the Packers are unique in U.S. professional sports with their ownership model, it is much more commonplace in Europe (particularly soccer teams). I speak from experience when I say that real sports fans have a soft spot for teams that are fan-owned (my beloved Manchester United was bought out in an unpopular leveraged takeover by the Glazer family). That being said, shouldn't your marketing department be focusing on the "people's team" aspect? P.S. – I work all over the U.S. and have yet to meet a genuine NFL fan who hates the Packers, as they love your ownership model.
You make a great point, Louis. We are certainly a unique team across the major sports leagues in the United States because of our ownership structure. In fact, I think it is one of our biggest advantages as an organization. We do try to promote our unique ownership model, but I think we can do even more. Don't you think we are truly America's team?! I've had a similar experience to you in my interactions with fans – they are fans of other teams, but we are often their second favorite team.
Jamie from Leduc, Alberta, Canada
My name is Jamie Hennessy. Huge Packers fan and shareholder. I've been to Lambeau for one game in my life. I want to get back down for another one very soon and will be bringing my 5-year-old son with me. Wondering what the progress is for Titletown? Thanks.
Thanks, Jamie. You'll have to bring your son to a game this year. I know we have a very strong following in Canada, and it's good to get our fans started young. As I described in the column last month, we are making great progress with Titletown. All three anchors – Hinterland Restaurant and Brewery, Lodge Kohler and Bellin Health's Titletown Sports Medicine & Orthopedics are now open and doing well. The next key date for Titletown will be the start of the regular season. We hope to have the first part of the public park and plaza open, including an activity strip, a full football field and a spectacular playground with NFL combine-themed activities. By mid-November, the most unique aspect of Titletown, the 45-foot high tubing hill, as well as the skating pond and trail, will open. The second phase of Titletown will have a residential component (townhouses and apartments) and a mix of offices, restaurants, shops and entertainment. One of our goals in Titletown is to bring stores, restaurants and entertainment options to Green Bay that are not presently in the area. Phase 2 will hopefully be completed in two to three years.
Gene from Baraboo, WI
I read about the art project that was recently completed at Lambeau Field. What can you tell me about the art in the project and can fans see the artwork?
The Packers and Sports & The Arts unveiled the new "Packers Collection," a large display of original art, graphics and photographs on the recently renovated club levels at Lambeau Field. Photos by Evan Siegle, packers.com.
Yes, Gene, the addition of the artwork was part of a two-year suite renovation project. I knew that the art would be part of the renovation and thought that it would be a nice addition. I have to admit, though, that I was completely blown away when I first saw the art. It is truly spectacular, and completely changes the look of our suite and club-seat areas. There are almost 550 pieces of art in the project – including paintings, photos and graphic designs. We worked with a company called Sports & the Arts, and they selected the artists and commissioned the paintings. We partnered with the Green Bay Press-Gazette and uncovered some great photos of not only players and coaches, but many of fans and the various stadiums that we've played in over the years. There are also many recent photos by our talented photographer, Evan Siegle. In terms of being able to see the artwork, we are planning special art tours through our Hall of Fame. Please check packers.com for information on these tours. Also, there are many paintings in the suite area on the fourth floor (near the Legends Club) that people can see when they are there for meetings and events. In fact, two of my favorite paintings are not far from the elevator on the fourth floor – a painting of Lombardi being carried off the field by the team, by Daniel Gerhartz, and a textile (quilt) painting of Lambeau Field, by Sue Benner, that is amazing. We now have an art gallery at Lambeau Field, and fans will be able to spend hours walking through the halls examining the paintings and photos. I'm sure that different paintings and photos will bring back special memories for many fans.**