Few things in life can unite a community like sports. And when it comes to sports, the NFL is the cream of the crop.
Stadiums are packed full of 70,000 plus screaming fans who are cheering for their teams, and pouring their hearts and souls into nothing but football for three solid hours.
It's an NFL tradition, and it's America.
When it comes to the NFL, most teams are lucky enough to have a fan base that sells out their stadium each week, but only one team has fans so loyal and dedicated, that the waiting list for season tickets exceeds the city’s population.
That team is none other than the Green Bay Packers, whose fans are unlike any other in America for these reasons:
It was on August 11, 1919 that the Green Bay Packers, one of America’s most iconic professional sports teams, was born.
The oldest team in the NFL began as little more than an idea from a guy named Curly Lambeau and a group of 20 dedicated men, who were ready and willing to simply play football.
With the financial support of the Indian Meat Packing company, where Lambeau worked as a shipping clerk, the Packers were officially formed.
In their first year as the Green Bay Packers, the team outscored their opponents 565 to 12.
In 1922, after several successful seasons by the Packers, the National Football League began with 18 teams, only three of which are left today.
After losing sponsorship from ACME Packing (who replaced Indian Meat Packing as the Packers' sponsor after the first two years), Curly Lambeau put up $50 of his own money to reinstate the franchise in the league.
In 1923, after running out of money to rejoin for a second year, Curly formed a partnership with other men who worked together to sell 1,500 shares of stock for $5 a piece.
To this day, the Packers raise funds for stadium renovations through stock sales, and they are the only non-profit professional football team to be owned entirely by the public, with around 364,000 shareholders.
The Green Bay Packers were not born from the pockets of a few wealthy executives, who decided owning a professional sports team sounded like a profitable venture.
This team exists because of nearly 100 years of blood, sweat and unrelenting dedication of hundreds of thousands of football-loving Americans.
Since 1960, Lambeau Field has been sold out.
Even to this day, the waiting list for season tickets is more than 30 years long. Now that’s commitment.
If you go to a preseason game, you’ll notice the sold-out stadium roars so loud, you feel like you’re watching the playoffs.
The green and gold are more than just a football team; they are the unifying force that is Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Take a trip to the famed football-loving city, and you’ll feel the incredible energy of an entire community that lives and breathes their Packers.
For Packers fans, supporting their team is not only an event that happens on Sundays in the fall. It’s a year-long endeavor of devotion. The community feeds the team, and the team feeds the community.
Nearly every household in Green Bay (and all across the state) has a dedicated “Packer Room,” or at minimum, a Packer Wall with portraits of past and present legends, bleeding homage to the green and gold.
You may not like your overbearing neighbor, but in Green Bay, you know you’ll always be able to bond over at least one topic.
There’s no doubting the loyalty of a Packer fan.
Yes, it may seem easy because Green Bay has had it good for, well, forever, but Packer fans are great because they’ve seen the bad years (the 1980s) and stuck it out.
The best thing about being a Packer fan means you’re dedicated for life. You’ve pledged allegiance to the green and gold, and there’s no going back. But really, why would you want to?
Sundays in Wisconsin means family, food and Packer football. There’s really nothing greater.
Just how loyal are Packer fans?
Well, remember the whole Packer Room mentioned above? Some have taken that dedication to a whole new level, and they've actually turned their entire homes into what can only be viewed as a museum of Packer memorabilia.
One such place is known as Under the Lights of Lambeau, a private residency located just across the street from Lambeau Field.
It can be rented out by visiting Packer fans wishing to get that all-encompassing Packer experience.
For any fan traveling from out of town who is looking for a unique way to celebrate the Pack, staying at Under the Lights of Lambeau is the perfect way to round out the trip.
You’ll be seeing green and gold for weeks.
In August of this year, the Packers announced their detailed plans for a new 10-acre plaza near Lambeau Field, known as the Titletown District.
According to team officials, the new district will include a park-like setting with various activities throughout the year, including ice skating in the winter, fitness-related events, special programs and game day experiences.
With the success the Packers have seen in recent years, Titletown is exactly what the community of Green Bay needs to play with the big dogs.
As the city continues to see a rise in visitors each year, the new district will provide additional recreational activities and events to experience.
The total cost of the renovation is estimated to be between $120-130 million, and the completion of the project is aimed for fall 2017.
This substantial investment means Green Bay is serious about building a thriving tourism industry.
The faith the Packers will continue to bring home the type of winning records that attract fans and visitors is risky, if you’re anyone aside from the Green Bay Packers.
The investment does more for the team’s fans than simply provide additional community activities; it speaks to the notion that city officials truly believe in the team’s long-term abilities.
Let’s be honest: They’ve already proved their sustainability.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting the city, you know how warm and inviting the people of Green Bay can be.
Few communities are so rich with history and tightly bonded by a common interest as Green Bay.
When most football fans think of the Pack, they think of tradition, devotion and, more than likely, victory. Green Bay is Titletown, after all.
But those three things are not a result of only players and coaches. They are the result of a community that supports their team so fully and whole-heartedly, it is impossible to see Green Bay in a negative light.
It’s the experience of feeling like you are truly a valuable member of the team that makes spending time in Green Bay so wonderful.
The Packers have done a tremendous job of including fans in team-related events, even outside of the regular season, like the Packers Family Night.
Each year, the team hosts a family night in the stadium before the start of the season, which includes food, giveaways and an on-field practice to benefit Wisconsin charities.
Providing up-close experiences like this gives fans a sense of unique pride in knowing their team cares about them, just as much as they care about the team. It's a true rarity in the money-hungry NFL.
It’s impossible to spend time in Green Bay and not leave with even a small piece of your heart loving the Pack.
Small communities are the bread and butter of America, and when you have a city so rich with identity as Green Bay, Wisconsin, you can’t help but want to go back year after year.
But, hey, go for it. It’s only getting better.