Green and Gold Love is All Around.
My passion for the Green Bay Packers runs deep. Always has. For me, the season starts with the Packers training camp. Other columns here you will read much about quarterbacks, wide receivers, offense lines, defensive players, coaching schemes, and all things pertaining to actual football stuff.
You can expect me to discuss those topics too. What really fascinates me is the unique Packer Fan Experience. It is so unlike anything in all professional sports.
Things that make it so great and so fun to be a Packer-Backer. I want to share that as well.
I love it all…the football, the fans, the feeling of family, the multitude of things to see, do, and learn about everything Packers.
The Packer organization and the City of Green Bay excel at embracing the fans with a desire to create such a fabulous fan experience.
Leading up to the start of the season, I will focus on “the experience’. Things to do beyond gameday attendance. Things that make me fall in love with our team, and the City of Green Bay, time after time.
Prior to making Green Bay my home, every season I would take a little vacation time in late July to spend a few days at training camp.
Presenting this information will hopefully guide you in doing the same.
Practice Schedule, Dates, Times, Location and Tips.
Week One. This year the Packers have presented a theme “Back to Football” as training camp opens with their first public practice on Wednesday, July 28 at 10:10 a.m. It will be the first of four straight daily practices for opening week (July 28-31).
Family Night, the annual team scrimmage conducted in a game atmosphere is scheduled for Saturday, August 7 at Lambeau Field.
Doors open at 5:20 p.m. and the practice begins at 7:30 p.m. The family-friendly event concludes with the fireworks show after the scrimmage has ended.
Tickets are $10 and sold only at Ticketmaster.com. Parking for the event is $5.
Week Three. (August 10-12) public practices are held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 10:10 a.m. start.
The first preseason game is Saturday, August 14 at Lambeau Field versus the Houston Texans. Game time is 7 p.m.
Week Four. (August 18-19) has just two final public practices on Wednesday and Thursday. Indications are that these practices will include the New York Jets. Start times are listed again at 10:10 a.m.
The second preseason game versus the New York Jets is Saturday, August 21, with a 3:25 p.m. kickoff time at Lambeau Field.
There are no public practices listed for the final week of training camp (August 23-27) with the conclusion of training camp being the third and final preseason game versus the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo. Kick-off time is listed as 12 p.m.
The Bicycle Tradition Returns.
Covid concerns of 2020 eliminated the long-standing tradition of players riding kids’ bikes to and from the locker rooms to practice fields.
Another unique aspect of the Packer Experience, watching players interact with young fans is always a joy to behold and I am pleased to report that this tradition will once again be part of training camp.
Something incredibly wonderful about seeing a 300-pound lineman trying to maneuver a little five-year-old girls’ pink decorated Barbie two-wheeler.
Other Training Camp Notes.
Concessions are available in the lot adjacent to Ray Nitschke Field. All Packer facilities have gone cashless, so expect the same for practice field concessions.
Carry-ins are permitted but must be personal in size as seating space is limited. Smoking and alcohol are prohibited.
Gates open 90 minutes prior to practice time. Seating is on a first-come basis, so it is advised to come early. Often the seating capacity maximum is reached, and you will be relegated to watching from behind the far end zone fence.
Do not forget your sunscreen. The mid-day sun shines brightly, and the seating areas offer zero shade. Expect it to be very sunny, often ridiculously hot, and if you are like me, very sun-burned if unprepared.
A fan favorite of practice is the quarterback’s distance and accuracy drill. Each quarterback takes turns starting at the ten-yard line throwing into a basketball-sized net in the corner of the end zone.
After each round, they back up ten yards. This continues until they eventually are throwing fifty-yard bombs into a tiny net. Fans love it and to see it you would know why.
As for who is best at it, Aaron Rodgers rarely misses to the delight of everyone watching. Another QB who was exceptional was Tim Boyle. A player’s competitive nature really shows in this drill.
One noteworthy change is the Packers no longer are staying at the St. Norbert’s College dorms like they have traditionally done so since 1958.
New NFL Covid protocols restrict the movement and access of players to mitigate exposure to the pandemic. The Packers will use their facilities at Lambeau for all training camp operations.
Attending Preseason Games
A note about attending preseason games. Preseason tickets are included in both the Green Package (Green Bay season ticket holders) and the Gold Package (Milwaukee season ticket holders) ticket plans. In theory, these game tickets are sold out.
This season is going to be a bit different in that all tickets have been converted to a mobile ticket system. In the past, there has always been plenty of tickets to be found for these games.
Despite the paperless format in which they are now produced, the lack of having a ticket should not be the reason for not attending. If this year is anything like the past, you should easily be able to obtain admission to any preseason game.
With Practice Concluded, What Else to Experience.
It is easy to fill vacation time with so much to do in Green Bay. The area itself with the Bay, the Fox River, and Lake Michigan is incredibly beautiful in the summertime.
Visit the Packers Hall of Fame, The Packer Pro Shop and Titletown. At the stadium alone, it is easy to fill a whole day with these “within Lambeau” amenities that will feed your craving for all things Packers.
Packer history is everywhere in this city with many ways to experience it.
Try the Oneida Nation Walk of Legends, a one-mile walk east of Lambeau Field featuring 24 statues celebrating the legends and history of the Green Bay Packers.
Check out The City Walk, beginning at Neville Public Museum, City Walk has 17 landmarks where much of the Packers’ history unfolded over the first 50 years.
Or do the Packing Plant Spur, a self-guided, 7-mile bike trip featuring City Stadium, original Packer practice fields and the Indian/ACME Packing Plant where it all started.
Take the Kids.
One of the greatest hidden gems Green Bay has to offer is Bay Beach, Amusement Park. The free admission park features 23 rides including the recently acquired “Zippin Pippin” an old-time Roller Coaster from Memphis, (widely known as Elvis’s favorite ride).
Also featured is the 100-foot, gondola-style Ferris Wheel that allows fantastic views of the entire bay. Like all parks of this nature, it is a family favorite with youngsters of all ages.
The greatest attraction is the price…free admission to get in. Ride tickets are twenty-five cents each, with the smaller rides requiring one ticket, most requiring two, and the most expensive requiring just four tickets.
Plan on a full day as the kids will enjoy their fill of rides all day long.
Hot summer days are sometimes best enjoyed with some relaxing time at the pool, and nothing beats attending training camp than a visit to the open-to-the-public, VFW Swimming Pool in De Pere. This newly renovated facility enables a refreshing swim for adults as well as kids.
Dining Hot Spots.
Lambeau Field and the Titletown District have numerous award-winning places to find great meals.
46 Below. (a tribute to the 1967 Ice Bowl), is located at Ariens Hill in Titletown and serves quick bites, comfort food and drinks.
Hinterland Restaurant and Brewery. Also, Titletown has a variety of menu options to suit all tastes and occasions.
1919. In the Lambeau Field Atrium and serves multiple entrees and sandwich options with a decent selection of craft beers on tap.
Taverne in the Sky. Located on the fifth floor of Lodge Kohler and provides a more upscale dining experience with a rotisserie cuisine focus.
Leaps and Bounds. A café on the first floor of Lodge Kohler that features specialty coffees, pastries, salads, sandwiches, and wraps.
Local dining spots not specifically aimed at tourists are my preferred favorites.
Back Nine Pizza & Pub has the best pizza in the area. About a 12-minute drive from Lambeau, the New York Style Pizza is one of the best anywhere, including New York.
The Redwood Inn. As far as Supper Clubs go, this place is a good find. It has been in business for over 60 years and while the food is good, the atmosphere is a Packer fan’s dream. As the story goes, players and coaches have been patrons of this local place forever. As a result, they have authentic memorabilia throughout the place. It is like dining in a Packer Museum. Bartenders are efficient and fun.
Rivers Bend Supper Club. This place is more along the true Supper Club feel. A slightly a bit more upscale, which suits them just perfectly. The river view is relaxing. The food is really good.
Chives. My favorite Green Bay area restaurant despite it being in Suamico. Apparently, it is a short distance from Aaron Rodgers’ home, and it seems he likes this place too. Or used to. The food is the best I have had so far in Green Bay.
Al’s Hamburgers. A throwback to an earlier era, this hamburger joint near downtown has a 1950’s Malt Shoppe feel, and the burgers are first-rate.
Gilligan’s Island. Maybe a bit of a surprise here, but this little corner bar has one of the best burgers in town… and every bar in town serves burgers and Green Bay Chili. While the other menu offerings here are limited, (it is a bar), order the burger and you cannot lose. Friendly staff as well.
If you have never done so, consider a little vacation time to start this season with a real Green Bay Packer Experience. You will not find more genuinely friendly or accommodating people anywhere.
Come for camp, visit the sites, enjoy the food. I relocated to Green Bay after many years of visiting this magical city and always hated to leave. Get in on the start of the Packer Experience with a trip to training camp. You will be glad you did.——————
Thomas Doyle is a career professional chef, entrepreneur, restaurant consultant and writer for the food industry. A Green Bay resident, avid Green Bay Packer fan and lifelong season ticket holder, Doyle now can be found as a feature writer for Packerstalk.com.