Green Bay >> When one is trying to build a case for the perfect sporting spectacle, what attributes are needed? History? Big game relevance? Atmosphere? Obviously a sold out crowd is imperative. Then you need that crowd to generate noise and intensity that shakes the building foundation. You also need the presentation to be exciting (starting lineups, music, pregame chants, etc Most importantly the fans need to be into the game from start to finish.
We all heard ex players, or broadcasters preach about attending a sport shrine such as Fenway Park or Madison Square Garden. Usually they follow it up by suggesting it be added to a person bucket list.
Last weekend I trekked to Wisconsin to watch the Packers Week 17 NFC North showdown with the Detroit Lions. After taking in the experience,http://www.cheapnfljerseysonlined.top I understand why preverbal heads bow at the mention of Lambeau Field. Lambeau is a true gem in sports, and a venue every person who calls themselves a sports fan should visit.
When you go through that metaphorical venue rolodex it is possible for each location to have negative aspects attached to the seemingly positives ones. For example, noise and intensity could always translate to booing, harassment of visiting fans, swearing, and drunken fights.
The unique atmosphere begins well before game time. As you drive toward the town of Green Bay, it is rural as rural can be. Suddenly a giant stadium appears off into the distance. You arrived in small town America.
Exiting your vehicle you encounter tailgaters everywhere. Music is blasting. Suddenly you are swallowed up in the smell of barbecue, and brats grilling. In every direction you look, you see fans wearing cheeseheads, and jerseys from NFL greats from Rodgers all the way down to the first Super Bowl MVP, Bart Starr.
I have never experienced so many friendly people in one setting. Every few seconds someone asked me if I was enjoying my stay in Green Bay, did I need any help finding anything, or would I care to have any of their food. I was blown away.
The fans were not just nice to a third party visitor from Philadelphia, like me. There were Lions fans walking through the parking lot, and they were greeted by people covered in green and yellow saying, guys good luck today! Have fun while you here.
I had trouble wrapping my mind around the benevolence these Packers fans. They are four hours away from going to battle with a divisional arch rival for the NFC North championship, with a first round bye on the line, and they are wishing opposing fans good luck.
Being a journalist I don believe I supposed to admit this but as I approached the gates to the media entrance, I started to get goose bumps. For years you hear about how special a place Lambeau is in sports lore. Now I a mere 25 yards from walking through the doors to encounter it firsthand.
After going through the hallways and tunnels you finally step out onto green grass and a nervousness and reverence overcome you. Your standing on the Tundra. Over the years upper sections have been added with individual seats as well as luxury boxes. Even with the renovations and modernizations it has retained a vintage ambiance.
After watching pregame warmups, it was time to head to the press box. I was completely unaware that there was a cuisine I never eaten food this delicious at a sporting event. All the Wisconsin classics were available, the brats, the cheese curds, the hot dogs, and it was all spectacular.
The folks inside the stadium were just as nice as everyone on the outside. The good will was contagious. I found myself saying hello to everyone I walked into. I was in the sports version of Disney World.
As I sat in the press box, getting my laptop, and notes ready for the game I began a mental run down of live sporting events that I attended. NFL,NHL and NBA playoff tailgates games, and big time college football programs on game day. Some of the people who worked in the stadium told me if I thought the pregame festivities were impressive, I had not seen anything yet. I should wait until the actual game started. They were right.
As the NFC North contest began, I realized I was not at a game, I was at an event. I was in a town with only 104,000 residents, and I was sitting in a sold out stadium which seats 80,978 people.
As the game began every time the Lions faced a third down situation, the noise was deafening. It was the polar opposite when Aaron Rodgers and the Packers high powered offense came onto the field. When Rodgers was at the line of scrimmage calling a play, or reading the defense, you could hear a pin drop. If you had closed your eyes you would have thought the stadium was empty. It stayed that way until the ball was snapped and Eddie Lacy would snap off a long run, or receivers like Randell Cobb or Jordy Nelson made key receptions. All of the sudden a thunderous roar would overtake the stadium. When the official would get the ball after the play was over and the offense huddled up, immediately silence would fall back over the crowd again.
In the first quarter punt returner Micah Hyde ran a 55 yard punt back for a touchdown, giving the home team the 7 0 advantage, I never heard a stadium get so loud. It was an explosion of noise. Right on cue Hyde took part in the Leap and the Todd Rundgren song Bang the Drum All Day echoed through the iconic stadium.
For most reporters telling the narrative about their first experience at Lambeau, this would probably wrap up the story. The noise, the kindness, the food, this place had it all. But this game had the drama. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers produced his own version of a Reed moment.
In the second quarter Rodgers rolled out and threw a touchdown pass to Randell Cobb. It came at a price. As Rodgers released the ball he collapsed on the turf. He had re injured his left calf was carted into the locker room.
At the completion of halftime Green Bay returned to the field without their starting quarterback. An uneasy feeling loomed in the air. However after five minutes went by in the third quarter, number 12 walked out onto the field and it was like the party began again. Just his presence walking along the sideline seemed to snap the Detroit momentum. It was almost scripted that once he returned; the offense would pick up where Rodgers had left off. The mojo in the building was restored.
So for anyone who has thought about visiting Green Bay to watch the Packers play your favorite NFL team, make it a reality. For those who have never thought about traveling to America Dairyland to watch a football game, you should. It is an moment you will never forget. The Lambeau Field experience helps explain why spectator sports are a major component of 21st Century American culture. Lambeau is more than a stadium, it a phenomenon.
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