Pack­ers plan­ning a cen­tury of cel­e­bra­tion

Packer Plus - - News - Richard Ry­man USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-Wis­con­sin

Green Bay — The team that was per­pet­u­ally on its deathbed is cel­e­brat­ing 100 years of foot­ball.

The Green Bay Pack­ers on Mon­day an­nounced some of the el­e­ments of a cel­e­bra­tion of a cen­tury on the grid­iron, which cul­mi­nates with its 100th birth­day on Aug. 11, 2019.

“I be­lieve this is the great­est story in sports. We are unique,” said team his­to­rian Cliff Christl. “No­body has a story like ours.”

Fans had to res­cue the Pack­ers from fi­nan­cial doom mul­ti­ple times over the decades, and at one point the NFL wanted to make it a trav­el­ing-only team be­cause it drew so well on the road and so poorly at home. The road at­trac­tion re­mains, but to­day the Pack­ers sell out ev­ery home game and have a sea­son ticket wait­ing list of 133,000.

Its past now the stuff of leg­ends and its present se­cure, the team re­vealed four tent-pole events around which it will build 16 months of cel­e­bra­tion, in­clud­ing a trav­el­ing ex­hibit, a four-day fes­ti­val in July, a con­cert in Septem­ber and re­lease of a 10part doc­u­men­tary and his­tory book in 2019.

“We’ve been work­ing on this five years,” said Pack­ers Pres­i­dent and CEO Mark Mur­phy. “You only turn 100 once.”

Mur­phy ex­pects the doc­u­men­tary and book will have last­ing im­pact.

“Cliff ’s book will be great,” he said of the 100 Sea­sons book to be pub­lished in 2019. “He knows more Pack­ers his­tory than any­one.”

The cel­e­bra­tion be­gan Mon­day, pri­mar­ily with the ap­pear­ance of new 100 Sea­sons-branded mer­chan­dise in the Pack­ers Pro Shop. The first tent-pole event will kick off in June with a trav­el­ing in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibit called Lam­beau Field Live. The ex­hibit will make stops at Sum­mer­fest, the North­ern Wis­con­sin State Fair, EAA AirVen­ture, the Wis­con­sin State Fair and Taste of Madi­son.

Lam­beau Field Live will in­clude Play 60 ac­tiv­i­ties, alumni en­coun­ters, a satel­lite Pack­ers Pro Shop and Pack­ers Hall of Fame, a Lam­beau Leap wall and a one-ofa-kind vir­tual re­al­ity dis­play.

That will be fol­lowed by a Pack­ers Ex­pe­ri­ence fes­ti­val at Lam­beau Field from July 26-29, coin­cid­ing with the an­nual share­hold­ers meet­ing and the open­ing of train­ing camp.

The free fes­ti­val will in­clude live mu­sic, a replica team locker room, USA Foot­ball kids’ clinic, Pack­ers alumni Q&A, photo sta­tions and more.

ESPN will broad­cast live from Pack­ers Ex­pe­ri­ence on July 26-27, said Gabrielle Valdez Dow, vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing and fan en­gage­ment.

The Pack­ers will party again dur­ing the week­end of the first home game in Septem­ber. The date of that game will be known in the next cou­ple of weeks, when the NFL re­leases its 2018 sched­ule.

Cel­e­bra­tion Week­end will in­clude a free con­cert, much like the 2017 home opener, which fea­tured per­for­mances by Ever­clear and Blues Trav­eler.

The week­end will in­clude ap­pear­ances by about 65 Pack­ers alumni and the 30th an­nual Green & Gold Gala, which raises money for Fam­ily Ser­vices of North­east Wis­con­sin.

The Pack­ers, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Green Bay ad agency Khrome, are pro­duc­ing a Ken Burns-length doc­u­men­tary, “Legacy: 100 Sea­sons of the Green Bay Pack­ers.” It will have 10 episodes cov­er­ing 10 decades of Pack­ers foot­ball, with each episode run­ning from one to two hours — some decades were more news­wor­thy than oth­ers. It will, of course, cover 13 cham­pi­onships, in­clud­ing four Su­per Bowl vic­to­ries, but also a cou­ple of painfully long spells in the wilder­ness, in­clud­ing from 1945 to 1959 and from 1968 to 1991.

The doc­u­men­tary series will in­clude never-be­fore-seen footage and new in­ter­views with cur­rent and for­mer play­ers. Por­tions of the doc­u­men­tary will be avail­able on Pack­ers.com and will also be fea­tured on the Tun­draVi­sion score­boards dur­ing games.

The com­pleted series will be avail­able in fall 2019. The Pack­ers are fi­nal­iz­ing how it will be distributed — whether stream­ing on­line or on a TV net­work, for ex­am­ple — but a DVD set cer­tainly will be avail­able, Dow said.

In 2019, the Pack­ers will re­lease its “100 Sea­sons” book, a de­fin­i­tive his­tory of the Pack­ers, by Christl. He worked as a sports­writer for four Wis­con­sin news­pa­pers, in­clud­ing the Green Bay Press-Gazette and Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel, dur­ing a ca­reer that spanned 36 years. A na­tive of Green Bay, Christl be­gan cov­er­ing the Pack­ers on a reg­u­lar ba­sis in 1974.

The Pack­ers will hold other an­niver­sary events dur­ing the 16 months, which will be an­nounced later.

Pack­ers fans can keep up with events on Pack­ers.com/100. A ded­i­cated 100 Sea­sons web­site will launch in June.

SARAH KLOEPPING / USA TO­DAY

Pack­ers his­to­rian Cliff Christl shares some high­lights at Mon­day’s news con­fer­ence.

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