Lambeau Field opened to fans for Favre ceremony
The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame heard the cries of disappointed fans when it was announced that tickets would not be made available to the public for Brett Favre's induction ceremony this summer.
Now, it's offering them a chance to be a part of it.
While the banquet and ceremony for the three-time MVP quarterback will remain inside the Lambeau Field Atrium, the Packers Hall of Fame said Friday that it is opening the stadium bowl to interested fans for the July 18 event.
The ceremony will play on the video boards with Favre also addressing the crowd inside Lambeau Field during the evening. Tickets are $4 each and go on sale at 10 a.m. May 12 with the net proceeds going to Favre 4 Hope.
"This viewing opportunity from the stadium will be a unique complement to a special evening and allow more people to share their excitement with Brett," Packers president Mark Murphy said in a statement.
There was some backlash when the Hall of Fame announced last month that tickets to the event had sold out before they were made available to the public. Amid public outcry, Favre told Appleton native Greta Van Susteren in a Fox News interview that he'd like to see the event moved into Lambeau Field.
Former team president Bob Harlan, who also is a Hall of Fame board member, said there was steady dialogue with Favre and his agent, Bus Cook, throughout the process. Other venues were considered and the idea of conducting the entire ceremony inside the bowl also was tossed around.
Due to potential weather concerns, they felt this was the best compromise.
"We've talked about a lot of options," Harlan said. "The venues we looked at, the seating capacity was about the same as we'd have at Lambeau. This is where the history and tradition of this franchise was raised and strengthened. Brett's illustrious 16-year career in the National Football League took place right here. This is where it belongs and I think to move it away from Lambeau would be a huge mistake.
"We've tried to accommodate as many people as we could in as many ways as possible with the No. 1 thought always being how do we help the fans? This is where we've come to."
Harlan said they already are expecting a record crowd for the banquet of more than 1,600 people. The event usually draws around 1,000 and is one of the Hall of Fame's two primary fundraisers, along with the Packers Hall of Fame Golf Classic.
Tickets to Favre's induction in the Lambeau Field Atrium sold out in a matter of days, according to Harlan, with 25 percent going to sponsors and the rest being distributed among long-time supporters, past inductees, Favre's family and past dignitaries.
"We have featured people coming into participate in the ceremony," Harlan said. "To say it's going to be a historic evening when you see the people who are going to be here, you can't say enough about how historic it is."
The Packers Hall of Fame originally planned to run the event on tape delay, but immediate public interest led to the decision to carry it live on the Packers TV Network, NFL Network and streamed on Packers.com.
A decision on when Favre will speak to the fans has yet to be determined, but Harlan estimated it could be during the dinner portion of the banquet, before the live coverage of the ceremony starts.
A limit of eight per order has been established for bowl seating, though that number could increase depending on fan response. Parking, also $4, will be available in Lambeau Field's west-side parking lot. Concession stands are expected to be open as they would be on a game day.
There isn't a set cap on the amount of tickets that will be sold. Tickets may be purchased through Ticketmaster in person, over the phone or Internet.
"I can honestly say from the phone calls that we've been receiving — if that's any measure of active interest — I would say that we will have a stadium that is representative of Favre fans throughout the country, to be honest with you," said Denny Tattum, vice president and director of sales and marketing for Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, Inc.
So if it sells out the 80,978-seat stadium?
"I think that would be an immense tribute to Brett Favre and his 16 years as a Packer," Tattum said.
Harlan reiterated that the Hall of Fame banquet is the first of a two-part ceremony for Favre. The second will take place at a Packers' home game later this year in which Favre's name and retired number will be formally unveiled inside the stadium on the north façade.
That date will be determined after the schedule is released in April.
Harlan said he spoke with Favre this week and he's on board with the decision. His top priority was making sure the fans are taken care of.
"He's never removed the No. 1 item from his list of being the interest in the fans. He's been very persistent in that and we have, too," Harlan said. "I know what this means to fans. This is an once-in-a-lifetime event. We looked at every option.
"We've never wavered in what our goal was. It's just taken us a while to get there."
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.