Green Bay 101: Where Do the Packers Play?
There are places that just feel different, whether man-made like Times Square or a slice of nature like the Grand Canyon. The same goes for sports stadiums. Whether it’s the history behind the building or the architecture, some just stand out more than others.
The Green Bay Packers are blessed to play in one of those stadiums – Lambeau Field.
Originally constructed prior to the 1957 season, it is the oldest continually operating NFL stadium. Only the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox have played in the same stadium for more consecutive years in American professional sports.
For the first nine years of its existence, it was called City Stadium or New City Stadium. It wasn’t called Lambeau Field until 1965, following the death of the team’s founder and first coach Curly Lambeau.
The original stadium held 32,500 fans, but was expanded soon after legendary coach Vince Lombardi arrived. By 1970, Lambeau Field was enclosed completely to form a continuous bowl, with a capacity of 56,263.
Between 1970 and 1999, the only major additions were two separate projects to add private boxes and theater-style club seats. The aging stadium needed a facelift to stay competitive alongside other NFL venues, and a $295 million renovation was completed by 2003. Another expansion in 2013 added 7,500 seats in the south end zone and upgraded the video boards on both sides of the stadium.
Where did the Packers play before Lambeau Field?
In 1919, the Packers began playing on an open field at Hagemeister Park. No fences, bleachers or extras adorned the field. In the first few years of their existence, the team would raise funds by passing a hat during games for donations.
Nearby City Stadium housed the Packers from 1925 to 1956. Located behind Green Bay East High School, it gradually expanded over three decades from 6,000 to 25,000 fans. Constructed entirely of wood in the shape of a horseshoe, the original facility had no restrooms. It was considered a less than ideal venue for professional football.
Both the Packers and their opponents used the locker rooms at Green Bay East High School. They were considered so below normal standards that opposing teams typically dressed at their hotel.
The venue originally named City Stadium remains standing to this day, but it has been vastly changed. In 2008, it underwent a renovation and has been almost completely re-built. The only original structure on the land is an equipment shed in the northwest corner of the facility.
By 1956, the Packers were given an ultimatum by the NFL: build a new stadium or move to Milwaukee permanently. Residents in Green Bay approved a bond issue to finance a new stadium in April 1956, and the team broke ground in October.
When did the Packers start playing in Milwaukee?
At the height of the Great Depression in 1933, the Packers began playing a portion of their schedule in Wisconsin’s largest city. The inaugural Milwaukee game was played at Borchert Field, a baseball stadium constructed in 1888. In subsequent years, the Packers played at State Fair Park, Marquette Stadium, and finally County Stadium.
County Stadium hosted the Packers for anywhere between two to four games a season between 1953 and 1994. The stadium was initially built to entice a major league baseball franchise to Milwaukee and to convince the Packers to move full-time to Milwaukee. When County Stadium opened, it was twice the size of City Stadium.
Playing NFL games at County Stadium posed a unique challenge. A football field barely fit on the playing surface, and both teams had to stay on the same sideline separated only by a piece of tape.
The Packers final game in Milwaukee was in 1994. Lambeau Field opened 90 new private boxes in the north end zone the following season, making it financially viable for the team to host all of its games in Green Bay.
Who owns Lambeau Field?
The stadium is owned by three parties – the city of Green Bay, the Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District, and the Green Bay Packers. The Packers operate the stadium and currently hold a lease to play there through 2031.