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*.*
As Coach Mike McCarthy stated after our game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday night, it was a very humbling loss. In the eight years I've been with the Packers, I don't remember a game where we've been as dominated on both sides of the ball as we were in this game. In the NFL, though, the reality is you are going to have games like last week's. The key is how you bounce back after a tough loss.
So, tomorrow's game against Carolina takes on added importance. Not only is it important to play well to show the Denver game was an aberration (and that we can play with the best teams in the league), it is a game against a top NFC team. Although it is too early to start thinking about playoffs, games against NFC opponents always carry more weight.
I believe the Denver Broncos loss will end up being good for us. Although we were 6-0 going into last week's game, we hadn't played our best football in the last few weeks, and the loss will serve as a strong wakeup call. Another thing that will help us over the rest of the season is the fact the Minnesota Vikings are playing very well (they've won four of five games), and we must improve our play in order to ensure we stay ahead of them. We're heading into a key stretch of the season with several key division games following the Carolina game.
There's a lot at stake in tomorrow's game. I'm confident we will bounce back after the loss to the Broncos and play well against Carolina.
Now, on to your questions:
Frederick from Middleton, WI
Mark, do you see the NFL flex scheduling as a positive or negative thing for the fans who attend the games?
Frederick, I would say flex scheduling is negative for fans attending games, and positive for fans watching games on TV. The NFL instituted flex scheduling a number of years ago to help the networks. In late-season games (currently any games from Week 11 on are subject to be flexed), the networks can "flex" a game from an early start to a late afternoon or evening game. It's a mechanism to help the networks ensure they have attractive matchups in the games that are either nationally broadcast or scheduled to be seen in a large part of the country. For instance, our game in Minnesota on Nov. 22 was flexed from a noon start to 3:25 p.m. For Packers fans traveling to Minnesota for the game, they may have to change their travel plans due to the change in the start time.
Terry from Green Bay, WI
I read in the paper the Packers are going to spend $55 million to renovate the suites at Lambeau Field. It seems the Packers only care about their rich fans. How about doing something for the season ticket holders seated in the bowl?
Whoa, hold on Terry. I disagree with your implication we haven't done anything for our fans in the seating bowl. For four years in a row, Lambeau Field has been voted the best fan experience in the NFL. I'm very proud of the fact that, despite these rankings, we have continued to invest in the stadium experience. In 2011, we installed a new sound system. The next year, we put new HD video boards in the end zones. In 2013, we added over 7,000 seats in the South End Zone. The South End Zone provides completely different seating and viewing options from the bowl (chairbacks, cup holders, seats under covers, viewing platforms), and many season ticket holders elected to move from the bowl to the South End Zone. Also, over the last few years, we've added three new gates, which make it easier for fans to get in and out of the stadium. In the last two years, we've renovated the Atrium and opened a new Pro Shop, Hall of Fame and 1919 Kitchen and Tap, amenities for fans on both game and non-game days. Plus, this offseason we invested in enhanced WiFi for fans, to allow them to better utilize their cell phones in the bowl.
Moreover, we've considered improvements to the seating bowl such as converting the bench seating to chairbacks and adding railings. The issue with these options is the bowl is not up to the present code, but has been grandfathered in. If we make any changes to the bowl, we would have to bring the bowl up to code, and we estimate we would lose 10,000 in seating capacity. I don't think any fans would voluntarily give up their seats to allow us to make these changes. Plus, I think part of what makes Lambeau Field special is when you sit in the bowl, you are having the same experience that fans did when they watched the great Lombardi teams play.
Finally, our premium seating areas (suites and club seats) have not been renovated since 2003. This is an important revenue stream for us, and the addition of operable windows will dramatically improve the gameday experience for these fans.
A question from Randy
Has there ever been serious discussion of possibly putting up a parking ramp somewhere around Lambeau Field? Thank you.
Not really, Randy. We are very fortunate to have enough parking for our fans (between our lots and neighboring houses and businesses). We have discussed the need for a parking structure, but never seriously considered it. With the development of the Titletown District in the coming years, though, this is something we may consider, in order to accommodate parking needs on both game and non-game days. We're also very aware of the great tailgating tradition at Lambeau Field, and want to ensure we don't take away from that.
Vincent from Tauranga, New Zealand
My question is when are we going to see the Packers play in New Zealand and can it be against the Bears?
I don't anticipate any games in New Zealand, Vincent, at least not in the short term. International games continue to be a high priority for the league, though. This year, for the second year in a row, the league has held three games at Wembley Stadium in London. Every game sold out (85,000 seats), and I anticipate there will be more than three international games next year. In the future, in addition to the UK, games may be played in countries such as Mexico, Germany and Brazil. Over the next four years, the league will play a minimum of 15 games in London at world class venues such as Wembley Stadium, Twickenham Stadium and the new Tottenham Stadium, due to open in 2018. The challenge for the league will be finding enough teams willing to give up home games.
Steve from Santa Clara, CA
I'm an avid Packers fan living in California. I'd love to be able to listen or watch all the games, but don't want to pay for the Sunday Ticket. Are there any other options available for Packers fans?
I'm often asked this question, Steve. One option would be to go to a Packers bar in your area. If you go to**www.packerseverywhere.com**and type in your zip code, you will see a listing of the Packers bars in your area. Also, the NFL just recently entered into a partnership with Tune In for the digital audio rights to all NFL games. If you go to Tune In's website, you can get the details on the broadcasts. The cost is $8 per month and there is a free, one-week trial option. Another option, if you want to view the game online on a replay basis, is NFL Game Pass. More information is online atwww.NFL.com/gamepass.