On Monday I got to knock-off another item on my Bucket List. A couple of weeks ago a buddy called and said he miraculously got tickets to the Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears and asked if I wanted to go.
Now, having grown up in Minnesota and rooting for the division rival Vikings, 10 years ago I would have told him to blow it out his ear and wished a rash epidemic across the entire stadium. Growing up, the Packers and the Bears represented nothing but bitter rivals to my home team.
But as I’ve aged (and moved out of Minnesota), I’ve mellowed and have become pretty indifferent to the NFL as I find myself rooting more for individual players than teams. Perhaps this is because my once beloved Vikings were the perpetual ‘bridesmaid but never the bride’ kind of team.
So last Monday, 5 couples including Mrs. Buck and me took a vacation day and spent our time taking in a Packer game at Lambeau Field. The day started at around noon with a limousine pickup which began our 3-hour commute up to The Frozen Tundra. The group consisted of 4 diehard Packer fans, 2 fervent Bears fans, and the remaining 4 of us who didn’t have a dog in the fight but opted to adorn ourselves in Packer gear. When in Rome…
From afar, I’ve never particularly liked the Packers but I’ve always respected them and their history. How many other towns a tick over 100,000 in population are able to support a successful professional sports franchise? And they remain the only community-owned major league team in the U.S.
The Packers are the NFL’s David to the Dallas, Chicago, and New York metropolis Goliaths in the arena.
In Minnesota, the government always threatened to raise taxes on us locals to fund a new stadium for the Vikings. How do the Packers handle it? Why, sell shares of the team’s stock, of course! Yes, one share of Packers stock essentially is a $250 paperweight, but “owners” (overzealous fans) eat it up and they are able to raise money without leaning on the general public.
Anyway, I’ve lived in this state long enough to realize that Wisconsinites tend to support their teams pretty well and they also know how to tailgate so I had to make a trip to Lambeau at least once to take in the festivities.
- Jim’s County Line outside Rosendale, WI is definitely a dive bar but provided the perfect mid-trip pit stop for an ice cold PBR and the best squeaky cheese curds I’ve had in a while.
- The Packers and Bears is the most-played rivalry in the NFL that started back in 1921. As a result, there was a good number of blue and orange clad fans that made their way up from the big city. I expected a lot more tension and even some rough behavior before and especially after the game but I really only witnessed good-natured ribbing between the fan bases.
- It was fun to see people mingling from tailgate to tailgate introducing themselves and sharing food or beer, regardless of what colors they were wearing.
- Few things are better than beer-boiled bratwurst from the grill with mustard and a heap of sauerkraut.
- Packer fans are known for their loyalty and I wasn’t disappointed having met folks who had traveled great distances to be at the game including western Iowa and South Dakota. I can’t count the number of signs inside the stadium that said things like “We’re New Hampshire Packer-Backers” or “I traveled 2,500 miles to be at this game”.
- It took over 30 minutes to enter into the stadium as they basically frisked every attendee as part of a giant cattle call. They didn’t even allow Mrs. Buck’s tiny camera bag in so she ended up having to toss that out at the gates.
- As a result of our delayed entry, we missed the Packer’s first drive of the game and only got to see the best player on the field, Aaron Rodgers, for one play before he left the game for good with an injury.
- The Packers go out of their way to talk about their 13 “World Championships”. It just reminds me how dumb and arrogant Americans can be when crowning champions. My definition of a “world” competition assumes teams from more than one country are actually competing.
- Tickets: $270 for two.
- Transportation: $133 for roundtrip limo ride and tailgating parking spot that shuttled all 10 of us to/from Green Bay (3 hours one-way)
- Food/Beer: $20 for our potluck contribution
- Babysitter: $100 (10 hours @ $10/hour)
Grand Total: $523
Overall I’m glad we went, had a great time hanging out with friends and it was worth it even if it made for a very tired Tuesday at work. I can’t imagine how people afford going to NFL games on a regular basis – I think I’ll stick to one every 10 years or so.