GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — About an hour's drive from those quaint Door County bed-and-breakfasts you promised you'd go to and those antique shops you promised not to complain about is something that makes it all bearable: Lambeau Field, the football stadium where the Green Bay Packers play.
Towering above the smallest community to host a professional sports team in the nation, the home of the Packers is one of the most storied stadiums in all of sports and a place that's every bit as cherished by football fans as places like Fenway Park are by baseball fans.
The Packers may only play here about a dozen times a season, but fans can visit practically every day of the year, for a tour that costs just $11. It offers a peek behind the curtain where so much of professional football's history has been written. In the last 10 years, more than a million people have taken the tour — all of them coming away with insider knowledge guaranteed to fascinate football fans and bore everyone else to death.
The tour starts in the atrium, where a guide points outside to statues of the team's founder and first coach, Curly Lambeau, along with the team's most famous coach, Vince Lombardi, and gives a brief history. Did you know the team's original colors were not green and gold but blue and gold, which, it turns out, are the colors of Notre Dame, the school Lambeau attended? Or that the Packers name comes from the packing company Lambeau worked for and talked into paying for the team's first uniforms?
It's also a chance to joke that what the statue of Lambeau is pointing to is the stadium's massive gift shop. The store houses what must be the largest collection in existence of foam hats shaped like orange cheese in honor of the fans' nickname — cheeseheads. The store also sells anything and everything one could possibly imagine with a Packers logo, as well as stuff you couldn't imagine, like the toaster that turns out toast branded with a Packers 'G' logo on it.
The atrium is where you start to get a sense of how important the Packers are to the fans. Sixty weddings are held here a year — including one in which the bride almost hit those taking the tour with her tossed bouquet — along with school proms.
As the tour moves to a luxury box, visitors are told not for the first or last time that the "frozen tundra" that ESPN's Chris Berman keeps referring to when he talks about Lambeau — meaning the field itself — actually froze just one lousy time.
Unfortunately for the Packers, it froze in what is still Lambeau's most famous game and perhaps the most famous game in the history of the league: the 1967 NFL Championship game between the Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, forever known simply as the Ice Bowl.