You need a few essentials in a new playground: Swings. Green space. A professional-grade football field.
To clarify, this is a new park in Green Bay. And if any city seems like it shall live by football alone, this is it. Lambeau Field, an NFL icon, can hold 77 percent of the city’s population. (Chicago’s Soldier Field would need about 2.1 million seats to match that.) Packers season tickets frequently factor into negotiations at divorce and estate settlements. And if you ride the trolley on the Packers Heritage Trail tour, you’ll pass not only the boyhood home of the stadium’s namesake—team founder/player/coach/local demigod Curly Lambeau—but also his office, his grave site and the packing plant where he started the team in 1919.
Green Bay Packers. Photo courtesy of Evan Siegle.
Yet Green Bay and the Packers themselves have realized that even here in northern Wisconsin, football may not represent a fully balanced civic diet. A stadium that’s used about 12 Sundays a year (depending on how the playoffs go) doesn’t quite pay the bills. So the Packers have turned their home into a year-round attraction with stadium tours, a team museum and event spaces. Today, the Packers earn a big share of their revenue outside of game day.
Meanwhile, the city itself has been looking to diversify its game. Like most small metros, Green Bay knows that it must attract fresh streams of young white-collar workers. The Titletown District promises to fill out Green Bay’s roster in multiple areas. This fall, that label became more than a long-running nickname attached to Green Bay during its championship heyday back in the ’60s. Its planners hope the development will become the city’s new heart, right next door to its soul at Lambeau Field.
What’s in Titletown?
The label of “entertainment district” doesn’t quite cover the 45-acre, $130 million (and counting) Titletown. It checked off all the standard boxes of restaurant, bar and outdoor spaces—and then upped its game.
The Packers play for championships, even on the playground. They studied every park within 10 miles to ensure Titletown’s play area had features no one else could match.
The view of Titletown from Lambeau Field. Rendering courtesy of Green Bay Packers.
1. The Beer Hall The landmark Hinterland Brewery moved from downtown to new digs directly across from Lambeau. The brewing facility occupies one end of the building. The ground floor hall serves classics and twists like ultralight fried cheese curds with kimchi ketchup. Upstairs, check out upscale creations like hibiscus ice cream in The High-Gravity Kitchen.
2. Luxe Tailgating The 144-room Lodge Kohler offers some of the hydrotherapy spa amenities and other luxuries made famous by Kohler’s resort an hour down the road. About half of the rooms face Lambeau, and terrace suites include patios for tailgating (with the sanctuary of a heated hotel room at your back).
A green roof becomes a tubing hill in winter. Rendering courtesy of Green Bay Packers.
3. A Roof You Can Play On A central mall includes a playground, bistro, public football field with artificial turf and meeting space with a sloping grass roof. When Green Bay’s “frozen tundra” winters arrive, the roof becomes a tubing hill, complete with a conveyor belt that returns tubes to the top. A skating pond loops around and under the hill, and a fire pit warms fans.
4. Home-Field Advantage For fans who never want Lambeau out of their sight, Titletown offers apartments and townhomes. Affordable rent in many should help draw young professionals. Among the district’s businesses, Bellin Health clinic is already open for services, including sports rehab. (One client: Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, who won 2016 Comeback Player of the Year.)
A playground and football field provide a gathering spot for residents. Rendering courtesy of Green Bay Packers.
Way More Than 4 Quarters
Even if you don’t have a game ticket, there’s plenty of Packers-related fun around town. (Seriously, though. you should find a ticket.)
Green Bay Packers. Photo courtesy of Evan Siegle.
Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame No team has a richer history than the Pack, and it all plays out in vivid fashion in this 15,000-square-foot museum filled with cutting- edge displays. See the Lombardi Trophies from Super Bowls (named after a Packers coach, of course). Sit in replica stands to watch a film of the famous Ice Bowl. And walk through a replica of legendary coach Vince Lombardi’s office. packers.com
Packers Pro Shop In a lot of towns, a store this size would qualify as a department store. And everything in it bears a Packers logo. Plan to stay patient in the checkout line on game weekends. packersproshop.com
Lambeau Field Stadium Tours On almost every day but game days, you can follow a strikingly well-informed tour guide around the sprawling atrium, into a skybox and through the tunnel the team uses until you’re standing at the edge of the end zone. Guides pack in tidbits like the fact that the Packers pay cash to people who shovel snow out of the stands before games because they found out everyone was saving their Packers paychecks as souvenirs. packers.com
Under the Lights of Lambeau If you plan far enough ahead, you can book a night in the half of Debbie Jacques’ duplex that she uses as a Packers-theme rental home. It’s directly across the street from Lambeau. But even walk-up guests are welcome to pay $20 to join her tailgate party. underthelightsoflambeau.com
Packers Heritage Trail Tour Ride a trolley around town to key points in Packers history, including an early home field that hosted a roster full of NFL Hall of Famers. How authentic is this narrated tour? Look at the 1996 Super Bowl ring Susan Broberg is wearing. She earned it while working as Coach Mike Holmgren’s assistant. candmpresents.com
Plae Bistro Brats may still be Cheeseheads’ staple food, but Plae Bistro proves a Green Bay game weekend doesn’t have to be old-school. This sleek eatery serves up dishes like pecan-encrusted scallops and chicken breast stuffed with apples, Brie and cherry sauce. plaebistro.com
1919 Kitchen and Tap Stop into this restaurant in the Lambeau Field atrium (right across from the Packers Hall of Fame) any day of the week for sandwiches or flatbreads. The name refers to the year Curly Lambeau founded the team. 1919kitchenandtap.com
More information on Titletown: packers.com