The annual Green Bay Packers shareholders meeting drew fans from across the country, all of whom were eager for the next football season to begin. (July 24, 2014) Rachel Minske/Press-Gazette Media
Nothing could stop Steve Tate from getting a front row seat.
The Green Bay Packers fan attended Thursday's shareholder meeting dressed head-to-toe in green and gold apparel. In addition to a Packers jersey and necklaces, the fan wore a cheesehead with the words "NFL" and "OWNER" on the sides.
"It's always great to be here with the other shareholders," Tate said of the meeting. "It gets to be annual event, just seeing friends that you haven't seen over the year. It's almost like a real feel to the start of the season again."
Tate wore a camera around his neck and frequently snapped photos.
"The Packers are just so impressive, we've just been in such a great run financially," he said. "It's a real successful organization but it's the community of it, the fun of being around it and the family that comes with it."
Tate was one of nearly 15,000 to attend the annual shareholders meeting in Lambeau Field. The stadium's parking lot was sprinkled with tailgaters prior to the 11 a.m. meeting.
Inside the bowl, a highlight reel from 2013 season played on the stadium's massive video boards before various committee members, general manager Ted Thompson and Packers CEO and President Mark Murphy took the stage to deliver comments.
"There's nothing like it in the NFL," Murphy said of the Packers stadium. "The Dallas Cowboys call themselves America's team. The Packers are the world's team."
Shareholders had the opportunity to check out the new Packers Pro Shop before the Atrium doors opened to the public at 2 p.m.
Shareholder Elizabeth Laudolff left her Chicago home at 4:30 a.m. Thursday to attend the meeting. She checked out the Pro Shop before and after the meeting.
"It had a lot of different items," she said as she waited in a long line to take the escalator to the ground level where the Pro Shop is now housed. "We didn't get to see all of it. That's why we're going back in."
A 15-year-old Packers fan made a long trek from California to attend the meeting. Jacob Polacheck of San Diego said he flew to Green Bay just for the meeting.
"I'm here with my grandpa," he said. "This is my first time here."
Polacheck's said his favorite parts of Lambeau Field were the giant video scoreboards located above both end zones as well as the names of past players displayed on the stadium's walls.
"It's pretty amazing how many fans there are for such a small town."
Also available for viewing was the re-landscaped Robert E. Harlan Plaza. The plaza honors the former Packers president and CEO and features newly configured statues of Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi in addition to shrubs and trees.
"I've been down to the plaza," said Packers fan Steve Tate. "Thirteen birch trees for 13 world championships."
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