Sept. 29, 1957: The birth of Lambeau Field
Sterling Packers, Stadium Shine in Dedication
Note: This story was published Sept.. 30, 1957.
Green Bay, Wis. - The formal dedication of Green Bay's new City football stadium was far outshadowed Sunday by the Packers' surprising 21-17 upset of the Chicago Bears.
The dedication ceremony also took a subordinate position to the new $1,500,000 stadium. And 32,132 paying customers, plus several hundred pass holders, filled the 32,500 seat bowl to capacity for its football debut.
Well in advance, the dedication committee seemed to realize that something big was to happen. Despite the fact there were five speakers and music on the half time program, it was limited to less than 15 minutes. On the bunting draped stand were Vice-President Richard M. Nixon; Burt Bell, commissioner of the National Football League; Gov. Thomson; George Halas, owner of the Bears, and Miss America, Marilyn Van Der Bur of Denver, Col.
Missing was Curly Lambeau, who helped organize the Packers in 1919. He sent a telegram saying he was disappointed, but added: "The biggest little town in football is the only representative in the big leagues with a modern plant just for football. Long live the Packers."
The stadium on the city's southwest side is a thing of beauty and will be a Green Bay joy for many, many years. The bowl is sunk below the surface of the flat countryside with sections of the stands between the goal lines extending above the ground level on steel beam supports.
The stadium was built with the idea that some time in the future an additional 16,000 seats could be added by extending the stands in the bowl ends to the level of the sides.
The fans are separated from the field by a low wire fence painted gold that clashes just a little with the yellow goal posts.
Three stripes of off pink facing decorate the three tiered press box. The lower tier is for the press, the middle for radio and the upper for television cameras.
The $12,000 press box spans the 40 yard lines on the west side of the field. It is spacious and comfortable and an excellent vantage point. The lower tiers are glass fronted, but the top deck is open for television camera lenses.
The flagpole is at the north end and outside the stands.
The scoreboad, a large green sign with white and yellow lettering, carries the score and time of the game in lights as well as the other usual statistical data and the scores of other league games.
Fans who didn't see the opener but plan to go to the Detroit Lions game next Sunday should know that the odd numbered gates are on the east side of the stadium, the even on the west. The field extends true north and south.
All of the seats appear to be excellent for spectating. Seat 17, row 34, section 17, is on the east side opposite the 35 yard line on the north end of the field. Row 34 is just above the half way mark between the first and top seat in the stadium. That information will allow you to gauge where your own seats will be.
There is leg room a-plenty, too, even for a long legged six footer. And the plank seats are as comfortable as plank seats can be.
The half time dedication was opened by the appearance of 22 majorettes and the 28 piece Packer lumberjack band marching onto the field.
The massed majorettes wore white halter type uniforms with brief shorts trimmed in green. Each majorette wore a "P" monogram on her outfit. The majorette who led the band wore a pale green spangled costume.
Nixon, who termed himself an old football fan, was introduced by Representative Byrnes (Rep., Wis.) He called the City stadium the best spectator stadium he had seen.
He brought greetings to the team and the people of Green Bay from President Eisenhower. Nixon added that the Packers had made Green Bay "the most well known little city in the United States."
He commended the people of Green Bay, saying, "you built this stadium yourselves." He said it was refreshing to find a community that did not seek federal aid for a project.
The vice-president also said Sunday's weather was as "good as anything I've ever seen in California."
Thomson told the fans that the state of Wisconsin was proud of the Green Bay Packers and Halas said that his Bears were proud to play in the dedication game.
Commissioner Bell contrasted the city's financing of the stadium with the bickering of metropolitan areas over a baseball park for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Nixon had to "sign" his way out of the stadium as dozens of autograph seekers in the front rows confronted him. He genially signed their programs, and in one instance a camera case, as he walked toward the gate leading to the field on his way out of the stadium. Gov. Thomson also was asked for autographs. Mrs. Thomson was with him.
Nixon, who was invited by the dedication committee, is a Washington Redskins fan and had never seen the Packers play.
"These Packer fans are as nuts about football as Milwaukee is about baseball," he said after the game.
As a social note, it must be reported that Miss America wore a striking red suit, a black close fitting hat and matching pumps. She also wore short white gloves and was as beautiful as a Miss America should be.
Sixty-one chartered buses and thousands of cars brought fans to the game. There was plenty of parking space available in the lots that surround the stadium and traffic moved out smoothly after the game.
The dedication program started Saturday with a big parade and water festival on the Fox river. There also was a bowing out ceremony at the old stadium, which had been the Packers' home since 1925.