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Johnsonville Tailgate Village coming to Lambeau
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers are building something for fans who don't have game tickets. And those that do.
Johnsonville Tailgate Village will be a permanent replacement for the white tent known as the Tundra Tailgate Zone in Lambeau Field's east parking lot. Tundra Tailgate Zone is a venue for food and drink, live music, autograph signings and other activities. The Packers operated Tundra Tailgate Zone for eight years to increasingly larger crowds, said Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy.
"We are going to be seeing more and more people coming here without tickets to be part of the experience," Murphy said of game-day use. "I expect it will be extremely popular."
The 30,000-square-foot building will have 13,242 square feet of event space. It will be 30 feet tall at the roof line with a slightly larger footprint than the tent it replaces. Also, it will have bars, a live music area, multiple large TVs, garage-style doors opening to a surrounding patio, air conditioning, heat and indoor bathrooms. It will include a full kitchen for event catering, underground storage and floor-to-ceiling glass walls.
Murphy said the building aims to meet evolving tailgating preferences. Younger fans are less likely than their elders to want to tailgate next to their cars in the parking lot.
"More of the younger fans would rather interact with other fans and be part of larger groups," he said.
The building will be available the rest of the year, too, much like the Lambeau Field Atrium. On non-game days, it can be rented for meetings, conventions or other events. Murphy said it would be a good complement to whatever eventually replaces the nearby Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena, which has "seen better days."
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Murphy declined to say how much the structure would cost. He said little or no parking will be lost because the footprint will be about the same as the current structure and "we have quite a bit of parking to the south that isn't fully taken up."
As now, fans will not be charged to enter on game days, but capacity is limited to 2,000 people on game days and up to 500 people for sit-down functions.
Johnsonville Sausage owner Ralph Stayer, a longtime Packers business partner, said it took him about 2 seconds to warm to the idea.
"Johnsonville brats are synonymous with tailgating. Who else could they have for that? It has to be us. It just made so much sense," he said.
Family-owned Johnsonville Sausage was founded in 1945 in Sheboygan County and employees about 1,600 people. Its products are served in 125 professional, college and semipro sports stadiums and has been the official sausage of Lambeau Field for more than a decade.
Construction will begin as soon as the weather breaks in spring and be completed by the start of preseason football, Murphy said.