For anyone who plans on going to watch TC.
The Green Bay Packers' training camp will be at St. Norbert College in De Pere for the 54th consecutive summer, the longest stay at one location for any NFL team. Forrest Gregg, the coach from 1984-'87, at the time attempted to convince management of the benefits of training at a more remote locale. One thing he didn't like was the sound of traffic alongside the practice field. The Packers investigated such sites as Whitewater, River Falls, La Crosse, Madison and Marquette, Mich., but were dissuaded by howls of protest from fans, club employees and tourism officials. Previously, the Packers trained at Rockwood Lodge just north of Green Bay from 1947-'49, in Grand Rapids, Minn., from 1950-'53 and in Stevens Point from 1954-'57.
Players again will be housed at Victor McCormick Hall on the St. Norbert campus. They moved in Thursday and will check out Aug. 18. Marginal players then will take lodging in a hotel near Lambeau Field for about two weeks until their fate is determined. The St. Norbert campus is about 6 miles south of Lambeau Field and the team's administrative-training complex. All practices are conducted at the team facility just as they are during the regular season.
The Packers have made radical changes in their practice schedule under coach Mike McCarthy. In 2006, McCarthy eliminated about 25% of the practices by rotating days with two workouts followed by days with one workout. McCarthy hoped to keep the players more energized and to spend more time watching video with players after each daylight practice. For the last four years, he scheduled no practice on the first three Wednesdays of camp.
This year, players will eat breakfast and lunch at the team facility and then have dinner at St. Norbert.
Under coach Mike Sherman, the Packers had 51 open practices in 2000, 41 in '01, 49 in '02, 46 in '03, 37 in '04 and 38 (including 17 in pads) in '05. Under McCarthy, a total of 28 practices were open in '06 (15 in pads), 24 in '07 (15 in pads), 22 in '08 (13 in pads), 25 in '09 (17 in pads) and 24 last year (15 in pads).
The new labor agreement prohibits teams from conducting two practices a day. Thus, McCarthy's schedule this summer will include 22 practices open to fans. Sixteen will be in pads, four in helmets and two in shells (smaller pads). Six of the 22 will be in the morning, two in the afternoon and 14 at night.
PLAYER DAYS OFF
No practices are scheduled on days after the Aug. 6 practice (formerly the intrasquad scrimmage) and the four exhibition games. In fact, there won't be practice on the two days following the exhibition game Aug. 19 against Arizona. There also is no practice on Tuesday, Aug. 2, and the days preceding the final two exhibition games.
WHERE TO WATCH
In good weather, the Packers will practice on Ray Nitschke Field, which was dedicated in 2009.
A mini-stadium with a brick facade, Nitschke Field contains two north-south fields: one is a regulation 100 yards and the other, which measures 70 yards, has an underground heating system identical to Lambeau Field. The Packers used the heated field at times late last season to practice outside.
Five rows of permanent metal bleachers raised about 6 feet off the field can accommodate about 1,500 fans. There also are standing-room areas at the north and south ends. The seats were virtually filled at the start of many practices each of the last two summers, but after the first hour or so the crowd dissipated, leaving plenty of opportunities for fans to sit. Gates will swing open 90 minutes before the start of practice and close 30 minutes after it ends. Most players will arrive and exit through a gate at the northwest corner. Eight permanent light standards provide lighting equivalent to what Lambeau Field had before its renovation.
The surface is DD GrassMaster, the same grass-and-synthetic field that was installed on Clark Hinkle Field in 2005 and on Lambeau Field in 2007. Hinkle Field will be used during the regular season until late in the year. The FieldTurf surface, which had been used at old Nitschke Field since 2004, was donated to nearby Ashwaubenon High School in 2009.
As always, admission to practice is free. Spectators are allowed to bring in small bags and coolers. Small stadium seats are permitted. Alcohol and smoking are prohibited, as are video recording devices and still cameras with lenses longer than 12 inches.
In case of rain or wet grounds, the Packers will practice in the adjacent Don Hutson Center. Because of limited space, fans aren't able to attend.
This will be the third summer since 1958 that Hinkle Field, formerly known as the South Oneida Street Practice Field, won’t be the primary practice field during training camp. There had been bleachers seating about 1,100 at Hinkle.
Tuesday, Aug. 30, is the last day for fans to attend practice. Canvas then will be drawn around the fields so the Packers can practice in privacy to prepare for the regular season. The NFL allows scouts from other teams to attend training-camp practices if admission is charged. Free practices are off-limits to opposing scouts.
Parking for practice is available in the Lambeau Field lot, where tailgating is welcomed.
Food and beverages will be available for purchase near the practice field. Food also will be available in the Lambeau Field Atrium at five restaurants, with lunch starting at 11 a.m. The restaurant at Curly's Pub, located on the second level, is open until 10 p.m. daily. The pub is open until midnight Friday and Saturday. Curly's, which has 138 TV sets, features an area with more than 50 interactive games.
Perhaps the best place is the team's Web sites, packers.com and lambeaufield.com. The latest alterations in the practice schedule will be available there. Fans also can obtain daily reports on times and transactions by calling (920) 569-7502. There also is a fan assistance kiosk located near the practice field.
Fans can obtain a training camp guide containing a roster at the Journal Sentinel kiosk near the practice field.
The team's guest relations desk in the Atrium will be staffed daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Packers didn't hold a major intrasquad scrimmage in 1997 or '98. Before that, the so-called "Intrasquad Game" had been a fixture at Lambeau Field, and most years it was free to the public. The Packers then began charging $6 for the scrimmage in 1999. Attendance was 46,420 in '99, 50,240 in '00 and 48,898 in '01. It was canceled in 2002 and '03 due to stadium renovation but returned in '04 with attendance of 60,216. It took seven weeks but the event was considered a sellout.
Later, the event became known as the "Family Night" scrimmage, and the ticket price was raised to $10 and parking was $5. Attendance was 62,492 in '05, 62,701 in '06, 59,362 in '07, 56,600 in '08, 50,787 in '09 and 47,844 last year. The scrimmage in 2008 was delayed by rain for 71 minutes. In 2009, the decision was made at 9 p.m. to cancel the scrimmage because of severe weather.
The Packers are going ahead with the event this summer at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6. Rather than a scrimmage, it will be a basic practice in pads. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. A jersey giveaway and fireworks display will conclude the evening. No refunds will be given unless all stadium activities from 5:30 through the fireworks are canceled.
An appearance by the Buffalo Bills in 2005 was the first by an opposing team during a training camp in Green Bay since 1991. That year, the Packers practiced against the New Orleans Saints in Stevens Point and then against New England in Green Bay. In ’90, they practiced against Cleveland in Green Bay.
In 2007, the Packers held a night practice at Old City Stadium adjacent to Green Bay East High School.
The popular Fan Photo Day, which had been attracting about 15,000 fans to Lambeau Field, was eliminated in 1994.
Citing safety risks, the Packers realigned their old parking lot in '97 to reduce the number of fans who could wait outside the building for players and coaches after practice. Today, players and coaches use a reserved lot on the east side of Lambeau Field that is off-limits to fans. At times, players will sign for fans that stand outside the fence.
It has been a tradition for players either to walk or ride on kids' bicycles to and from practice, and McCarthy encourages the practice. However, in the last decade, some starters and key players have been hopping into vans driven by St. Norbert personnel after each practice for rides from the field to the facility, making them inaccessible to fans. Youngsters with bikes are encouraged to line up in front of the Oneida Nation gate about 20 minutes before practice and outside Nitschke Field after practice. Many players then pick a bike to ride, with the youngster hitching a ride on the back of the bike or running alongside. The biking tandems have about 100 yards more to cover with the move to Nitschke Field.
The Packers instituted a program in 1997 to help some fans obtain autographs by having players and coaches sign at tables after the morning practice. The Packers did away with autograph tables in 2006 and erected something called the "Tundra Tailgate Zone" in 2008. A free attraction, the 46,000-square foot area on the east side of the stadium contained three large tents. Kids had a chance to meet players, shake their hands and get autographs.
Because of the lockout, the Packers did not start to erect the tents until recently. They will be open during the practice Aug. 6 and for all games, but won't be open during training camp. A club spokesman said a plan to help people obtain autographs was still being determined. At the very least, some players will sign on their way to and from practice.
The Packers Experience, a free interactive training-camp playground, will not be returning. It was housed in the "Tundra Tailgate Zone," and those tents won't be used during training camp. It had been open free to the public.
The Packers Pro Shop, expanded to 9,000 square feet, has varying hours. It's open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Training-camp rosters were increased from 80 to 90 players this season because of the lockout. On the league calendar, the NFL says a possible roster reduction to 75 players would be Aug. 30. The roster reduction to the final 53 players is Sept. 3. It is assumed practice squads can be assembled shortly after the last cut.
HALL OF FAME/STADIUM TOURS
The Packers Hall of Fame is located in the Lambeau Field Atrium. The 25,000-square foot facility will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors (62 and up), military personnel, college students and youths ages 12-17; $5 for youths ages 6-11; and free for kids 5 and under. Call (920) 569-7512 for information.
One-hour tours of Lambeau Field will be conducted daily during camp at 15-minute intervals starting at 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday and at 10 a.m. Sunday. They run until late in the afternoon. Tickets are available at 8 a.m. in the Atrium on a first-come, first-served basis for each day's tours. The tours often sell out; expect lines well before 8 a.m. Call for group rates. There are no reservations for individuals. Tours begin in Harlan Plaza. Tickets are $11 for adults; $10 for seniors (62 and up), military personnel, college students and youths ages 12-17; $8 for youth ages 6-11; and free for kids 5 and under.
Adults can buy a combination Hall of Fame and Lambeau Field tour ticket for $19.
The Legendary Lambeau Experience is a two-hour walking tour with stops in the press box, network TV broadcast booth and visitor locker room. Included is a pass to the Hall of Fame. It costs $38 for ages 12 and up. Dates and times will be announced.