Nothing’s perfect. Even our beloved Green Bay Packers.
That is the thought process behind this week’s Wednesday Walkthroughs prompt to Acme Packing Company’s contributors. There are always ways for an organization to improve itself, and with the Packers’ summer break between minicamp and training camp upon us, we’ll be taking a look at some broader questions in the next few weeks.
Thus, this week we brainstormed ideas for changes that we would like to see the Packers implement in the future. Whether that is looking back to periods in the team’s past that some would rather forget, refocusing the team’s off-the-field efforts around the fan experience, or adding a new tie-in to college football, there are plenty of ways that the team and the organization can be even better and more fun.
Let’s see what ideas our writers have in store.
Jon Meerdink - Embracing the weirder, less glamorous parts of Packers history
Sometimes it seems like there are only three parts of Packers history: the Curly Lambeau years, the Lombardi era, and whatever you’d call the time from when Ron Wolf took over to the present. Judging by the way the Packers manage their public presentation, you’d be tempted to think that these three eras took place one right after the other, with greatness leading to greatness leading to greatness.
Of course, that’s not true. There was a solid decade between the end of Lambeau’s tenure as coach and the start of Lombardi’s, and we all know about the Gory Years between Lombardi and Mike Holmgren. Heck, even within Lambeau’s storied years in Green Bay there were some less successful periods. But that doesn’t mean nothing interesting happened.
It’s those bad, weird, less-glamorous parts of Packers history that I’d like to see embraced, and if I was king of the Packers, that’s exactly what we’d do. It’d be easy to highlight some of the players who toiled in relative obscurity during the Packers’ darker eras. For instance, the great Billy Howton put up great numbers in the 1950s, twice leading the league in receiving yards and catching passes from a very young Bart Starr.
Or, for a more visual look at these less well-explored periods in Packers history, I’d like to see the Packers embrace some more interesting throwback uniforms. The blue and gold numbers they’ve trotted out have been fine, but they’ve been tied to well-known periods in the team’s history. The yellow circle outfits were inspired by uniforms from the Johnny Blood-era Packers, while their current sets (and their 75th anniversary uniforms) hearkened back to the Don Hutson era.
If I was king of the Packers, we’d get really weird and wild. How about a solid yellow uniform? Perhaps all green? Or, if we must maintain the colorless Color Rush look, at least throw it back to the very early Starr era. And there are even more interesting options if throwbacks have to be blue and gold, why not something we haven’t seen before? Just prior to Lombardi’s arrival, the Packers’ blue and gold uniforms were quite sharp looking.
The Packers are a great NFL franchise, but pretending like they’ve always been great is a disservice to the team’s own history. Let’s not be afraid of the less-exciting parts of Packers history. Let’s embrace the weird (even bad) moments and appreciate what we’ve got now even more.
Wendi Hansen - Bring the fun back
Change is good, great, even. It’s also something the Packers have seen and will continue to see a whole lot of this season. From wholesale upgrades and a new coach, to fresh players and even fresher plays, I’m honestly excited and hopeful for what the 2019 season will bring.
If there is one thing however that I would put an emphasis on, it would be that the Packers bring back the fun. Yes, I said it. F-U-N. Fun. Long were the days when Lambeau Leaps were commonplace, where leaders like *cough Aaron Rodgers cough* spent time building his team up, celebrating their successes, and genuinely looked like they were having a great time out there. The last few years as a Packer and Packer fan have admittedly been a little rough. But I believe that there’s great power in returning to that joy of what made you fall in love with the game in the first place.
Peter Bukowski - Recapture the small town vibe and regain focus on fan experience
The Packers are trying to make a profit and I don’t blame them for it. They’re a small market team with limitations other franchises don’t have. There’s no billionaire owner to float money for capital projects or keep cash flow.
So are some of the “improvements” the team has made to Lambeau Field and the fan gameday experience. It feels more corporate than fan friendly. Look at how big a hit the Deer District is in Milwaukee. If you’re going to try and provide these types of fan experiences, then make them feel like fan experiences not vapid corporate ones.
A lot of the charm of the gameday experience has been lost and that’s not a net negative. But if you’re going to try and engage fans on this level, then go all out. Overhaul the concessions to provide better, local options (as the Bucks did with Fiserv Forum). Make them feel like they have a voice by actually catering to their needs and wants.
With the advent of HDTV and Sunday Ticket packages, fans don’t need to go to the games to enjoy them. If the Packers want to keep their fans locked in, they have to care more about them by actually serving them. That includes a better effort to put tickets in the hands of fans, not brokers on the secondary market. It means revamping the game day experience and finding ways outside of 8 games a year to make the fans feel like they’re a part of the team.
And no, a “stockholders day” does not count.
Matub - Put out an official “Game Day Guide”
I’m sick of the debate among fans as to how someone should act during a game. If I was King of the Packers, there would be official guidelines as to what is acceptable behavior for a fan at Lambeau Field. This does not mean it’s EXACTLY how you have to act (with one exception), but it means that if someone acts this way they are within their rights to tell you to leave them alone.
- Standing is allowed and encouraged
- Noise on 3rd down (when the Packers are on defense) is heavily encouraged
- Refrain from discouraging guidelines 1 and 2
- The wave is strong discouraged. If you are caught starting the wave three times, you lose must pay a fine.
These are just the first few items that popped into my head. The complete guide would include more action items, but those are far and away the most important to me.
Evan “Tex” Western: Host a college bowl game at Lambeau Field
Little by little, the Packers have warmed up to including college football games in the hallowed halls of Lambeau Field. A few years ago, the Wisconsin Badgers hosted LSU to open the college season, and the UW will return to play Notre Dame there in 2020 (part of a pseudo home-and-home, with the 2021 game taking place at Soldier Field). Given the success of the first game and the surefire success of the second, it’s easy to imagine Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez and Packers president Mark Murphy working together for more of these showcase games in the future.
But what if you’re not a Wisconsin fan, or a supporter of the “road” teams in these contests? There’s little reason to attend in this case. Instead, I think it would be genius if the Packers bid to host a college bowl game.
Cold-weather bowls are becoming both more common and a necessity, as there were about 40 such games last year. There just aren’t that many stadiums in warmer-weather climates to host all these games. The Pinstripe Bowl takes place at Yankee Stadium and has seen snow in a few of those games, while Boise hosts a bowl game each year as well. That part isn’t crazy. If you really want to guarantee attendance, get the Big Ten conference and the MAC to matchup and you have ready-made traveling fan bases that would sell plenty of tickets to see their favorite college team play, even in cold weather.
Admittedly, scheduling would become a bit difficult. The game would need to take place on a weekday or, assuming the game does not get a prominent spot in the bowl schedule, the Packers would need to request a road game each year in week 16 or 17. (Anything into January is off-limits of course, as the Packers should not take a chance on any conflicts during the NFL postseason). I’d lean towards scheduling this game between the final games of the NFL regular season.
This would provide fans of some football programs who aren’t likely to see their teams play against the Badgers at Lambeau a chance to do so and to experience the mystique of the stadium — enhanced even more by the wintry weather conditions that have helped make it so memorable. Murphy, let’s make this happen.
Kris Burke: Bring back Fan Fest, kill the Tailgate Tour
The Green Bay Packers are unique. They’re the only community owned professional franchise in America. That means they share a bond with their fans that no other team really has.
Packers Fan Fest was a great way for the players and fans to connect before the team abruptly canceled it in favor of the Tailgate Tour. At Fan Fest, for two days players and fans would mingle in the Lambeau Field Atrium for photos and autographs and fans could even get a tour of the Packers locker room, a feature not even available on Lambeau Field tours even today (seeing the visitors locker room is an option on select tours).
The Tailgate Tour is cool and all but they only get to see a few towns/cities per year and though it has allowed the team to make a personal connection with fans further away from Green Bay, it hasn’t been as popular as Fan Fest and the events have just been very quick meet and greets. Much more personal connections could be made at Fan Fest.
Throw in the surge of money area businesses would see from a reborn Fan Fest (it was previously held in mid-March, a slow period for Wisconsin tourism because it’s still cold and the Brewers aren’t playing yet) and it should be a no-brainer.
Paul Noonan: Real(er) Stock
I realize this is functionally impossible, and it’s still far better to have this ownership structure versus the typical evil billionaire, but it would be nice if the stock that was occasionally released to the public actually came with some level of actual power. I’m fine with the restraint on trading — which actually is a condition of the higher stock classes as well — but if the lower class combined for something like 5% voting power, would that be so bad? If the fans could break an occasional tie or actually have a real say on an issue, I think it would strengthen the teams’ ties to the community even more. Fans would be able to organize to have a real say, and the frequent disparagers of the stock would be (mostly) silenced.
The corporate structure of the Packers is great and unique, but it’s still somewhat removed from the average fan who made the team great in the first place. In a perfect world, the team would create a method to get them back involved in a substantial way.