Packers celebrate 100 seasons with festivals, concerts, documentary and more
GREEN BAY – The team that was perpetually on its deathbed is celebrating 100 years of football.
The Green Bay Packers on Monday announced some of the elements of a celebration of a century on the gridiron, which culminates with its 100th birthday on Aug. 11, 2019.
"I believe this is the greatest story in sports. We are unique," said team historian Cliff Christl. "This team was perpetually on its deathbed. Nobody has a story like ours."
Fans had to rescue the Packers from financial doom multiple times over the decades, and at one point the NFL wanted to make it a traveling-only team because it drew so well on the road and so poorly at home. The road attraction remains, but today the Packers sell out every home game and have a season ticket waiting list of 133,000.
Its past now the stuff of legends and its present secure, the team on Monday revealed four tent-pole events around which it will build 16 months of celebration, including a traveling exhibit, a four-day festival in July, a concert in September and release of a 10-part documentary and history book in 2019.
"We've been working on this five years," said Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy. "You only turn 100 once."
Murphy expects the documentary and book will have lasting impact.
"Cliff's book will be great," he said of the 100 Seasons book to be published in 2019. "He knows more Packers history than anyone."
The celebration began Monday, primarily with the appearance of new 100 Seasons-branded merchandise in the Packers Pro Shop. The first tent-pole event will kick off in June with a traveling interactive exhibit called Lambeau Field Live. The exhibit will make stops at Summerfest, the Northern Wisconsin State Fair, EAA AirVenture, the Wisconsin State Fair and Taste of Madison.
Lambeau Field Live will include Play 60 activities, alumni encounters, a satellite Packers Pro Shop and Packers Hall of Fame, a Lambeau Leap wall and a one-of-a-kind virtual reality display.
That will be followed July 26-29 by a Packers Experience festival at Lambeau Field, coinciding with the annual shareholders meeting and the opening of training camp. The free festival will include live music, a replica team locker room, USA Football kids' clinic, Packers alumni Q&A, photo stations and more.
ESPN will broadcast live from Packers Experience on July 26-27, said Gabrielle Valdez Dow, vice president of marketing and fan engagement.
The Packers will party again during the weekend of the first home game in September. The date of that game will be known in the next couple of weeks, when the NFL releases its 2018 schedule.
Celebration Weekend will include a free concert, much like the 2017 home opener, which featured performances by Everclear and Blues Traveler. The weekend will include appearances by about 65 Packers alumni and the 30th annual Green & Gold Gala, which raises money for Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin.
The Packers, in collaboration with Green Bay ad agency Khrome, are producing a Ken Burns-length documentary, "Legacy: 100 Seasons of the Green Bay Packers." It will have 10 episodes covering 10 decades of Packers football, with each episode running from one to two hours — some decades were more newsworthy than others. It will, of course, cover 13 championships, including four Super Bowl victories, but also a couple of painfully long spells in the wilderness, including from 1945 to 1959 and from 1968 to 1991.
The documentary series will include never-before-seen footage and new interviews with current and former players. Portions of the documentary will be available on Packers.com and will also be featured on the TundraVision scoreboards during games.
The completed series will be available in fall 2019. The Packers are finalizing how it will be distributed — whether streaming online or on a TV network, for example — but a DVD set certainly will be available, Dow said.
In 2019, the Packers will release its "100 Seasons" book, a definitive history of the Packers, by Christl. He worked as a sportswriter for four Wisconsin newspapers, including the Green Bay Press-Gazette and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, during a career that spanned 36 years. A native of Green Bay, Christl began covering the Packers on a regular basis in 1974.
The Packers will hold other anniversary events during the 16 months, which will be announced later.
Packers fans can keep up with events on Packers.com/100. A dedicated 100 Seasons website will launch in June.