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*.*
Last August, we announced plans for our Titletown project on 34 acres of land just west of Lambeau Field. We'd been working on the planning for the project for almost seven years, so it was very exciting to finally be able to make the announcement. We're especially excited to see the impact the Titletown District will have on the local community. Much of the focus was rightfully on our three initial tenants – Lodge Kohler, Hinterland and the Bellin Health Sports Medicine Clinic. We held groundbreaking ceremonies this summer for the hotel and restaurant and will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the Bellin facility next Thursday. If you've driven by Lambeau Field recently, you've noticed that both the hotel and restaurant have progressed significantly, and both are on track to open next summer.
One aspect of Titletown that hasn't received a lot of attention is the public park. It will be unique among real estate developments, in that such a large portion of the project (eight to 10 acres) will be dedicated to the park. We've been working on the specific plans for the park the past year, with focus groups of local community members providing important input. On Thursday morning, we provided an update on our plans for the public park.
The park will be comprised of five components – a plaza, an activities area, a playground, a full-length sports field, and an ice skating/sledding hill area. The plaza will be a gathering area with landscaping and hardscape. It will be programmed for activities such as concerts and festivals. The activities area will have games such as ping pong, bocce ball and bean bag toss. The playground will have facilities unique to our community with a Play 60-themed area and NFL Combine inspired activities, as well as more traditional playground elements. The sports field will be a 100-yard artificial surface field to be used for multiple sports as well as other activities. Finally, the ice skating/sledding hill area should be very popular with local residents as well as visitors. Members of the focus groups stated very clearly that they wanted facilities that will keep them active and outside in the winter. The skating area will include a rink area as well as a skating trail that will go under the sledding hill. The sledding hill will be 45 feet in height and have a run of approximately 300 feet. We will make ice and snow for the rink and hill, which will allow people to use the facilities when the temperature is below 50 degrees.
Next summer will be an exciting time in Green Bay, with Lodge Kohler, Hinterland, the Bellin Health Sports Medicine Clinic and the public park all opening. November should also be a great time in the area with the start of the skating and sledding in the public park. Below are the renderings of the park.
Now, on to your questions:
The Packers announced the finalized plans for phase one of the Titletown District public park, part of the ongoing development to the west of Lambeau Field. Renderings by Rossetti. Photos by Duke Bobber, packers.com.
John from Menasha, WI
What do you think of the Packers having the early bye (Week 4) this year?
I wasn't too excited about it, John, when the schedule first came out in the spring. With our current injury situation (especially on defense), though, it comes at a good time. We have a Thursday game for our sixth game, so that will give us a mini-bye after that game. I try not to worry too much about the schedule, since it tends to even out over the year and time. Moreover, when we won the Super Bowl in 2010, we had an early bye.
Bill from Hudson, WI
The Vikings' new U.S. Bank Stadium looked great on TV. What were your thoughts regarding the stadium?
U.S. Bank Stadium is very impressive, Bill. For $1.1 billion, it should be impressive, right? Seriously, the Vikings did an excellent job designing the stadium, and it is a tremendous upgrade over the Metrodome. It has many of the features of the newer stadiums such as field level suites, spacious club areas (although most are all inclusive – the ticket cost includes food and non-alcoholic drinks) and large HD video boards. It also has some unique aspects, including a translucent roof (I would be interested to see the roof during a day game), 75-foot high doors that pivot open at one end of the stadium and smaller club areas with couches. U.S. Bank will be a great asset to Minneapolis for many years to come and will host major events such as Super Bowls and NCAA Final Fours, but I wouldn't trade it for Lambeau Field.
Dacia from Iowa
How is it being CEO of the Packers and trying to keep a "down-to-earth" personality? Also on a tour you should try and have a stop closer to Charles City.* *
First, Dacia, we did have a stop in Iowa on one of our Tailgate Tours several years ago. We stopped in beautiful Dubuque, Iowa, on the Mississippi River. Also, a few years before that, we had a stop in Platteville, and drew quite a few Packers fans from Iowa. I know that there are many Packers fans in Iowa, and we've done pretty well over the years with players from the University of Iowa. In terms of keeping a down-to-earth personality, given the nature of our organization (community owned), I think it is important for the leaders of the Packers to be down to earth, humble and approachable. In addition, with the nature of the game of football and as hard as it is to win and be successful, it does keep you grounded.
A question from Ron
I know you are always looking for ways to increase revenue for the Packer organization. Therefore I would like to propose opening the stadium to fans on away games. There are a lot of people who would love to sit in the stadium and watch the game on the jumbo screens. Many people do not hold season tickets and this would give them a chance to experience what it is like on game day. This would be very much like people do for off-track horse racing. Of course a study on the feasibility would have to be done but from the people I have talked to, getting the fans to show up would not be a problem. I submit this proposal as one more way to greatly impact the Packers' bottom line.
Thanks, Ron. I appreciate your suggestion to help us generate additional revenue. Unfortunately, league policy prohibits teams from charging admission for people to watch "away" games in their stadiums. The policy is in place to protect the networks and their ratings. I think you are on to something, though. We've noticed that more and more people are coming to our Tundra Tailgate Zone tent without tickets to the game. They want to be a part of the excitement of being at Lambeau Field and watch the game with other Packers fans. With the more permanent promenade going up next year, I expect this trend to continue to grow, and we will also study whether it would make sense to have the promenade open for away games. If you recall, during the NBA Finals, the teams opened up their arenas (with no charge) for fans to watch the games. We are also examining what we might be able to do with video boards in Titletown to provide an area where Packers fans could watch both home and away games.
Craig from Fond du Lac, WI
As a Packers guy through and through...I know where your loyalties are. But when we think we have the best fans, is that really true? BTW, I bleed green-n-gold. Do other teams ever ask you how to create a Packers atmosphere in their city?
You're right, Craig, I am a little biased when it comes to this issue. I do think we have the best fans in the league, with the Steelers fans a not-so-close second. However, an objective source, Forbes Magazine, recently ranked the fans from all 32 teams, and determined that we have the best fans in the league.
They looked at a number of different criteria, such as local TV ratings and website and social media activity, to measure how closely fans follow their team. Although executives from other teams realize that our fan base is very unique because of our ownership structure and great history and tradition, they do ask about some of the various things that we do for our fans including the Tailgate Tour, specific aspects of our website, our Hall of Fame and Packers Everywhere.