Here in Wisconsin there is approximately 453 inches of snow, so excuse me if I find it difficult to think of hanging out in the bleachers on a sunny afternoon or tailgating. Yes this cold, icy, harrowing weather lends itself quite well to the game of football – or so we have tricked ourselves into thinking up here.
In honor of the Green Bay Packers reaching Super Bowl XLV, I thought I would take a trip down memory lane with you to relive the days when County Stadium hosted the Pack and the Brewers.
Milwaukee County Municipal Stadium opened in 1953 in order to give a home to the then minor league Milwaukee Brewers. In a cruel twist of fate, the Boston Braves moved just a few months before the stadium opened to the public, and the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association were homeless.
Almost immediately, the Green Bay Packers sought out an opportunity to play there as well. For years, football fans in Milwaukee had been clamoring for NFL action that didn’t result in a nearly two-hour drive or the acknowledgment of Chicago’s existence, and the Green Bay Packers were not interested in moving down permanently to the Cream City. The Packers had previously played Milwaukee games in Wisconsin State Fair Park and Marquette Stadium, but with the construction of Milwaukee County Stadium, everything fell into place perfectly. Interestingly enough, County Stadium was the first US ballpark financed by the public, and with that money they put in features which allowed for football games to played in the stadium as well.
By ‘allowing’ football, we do mean the bare-minimum requirements of having 120 yards of space somewhere in the stadium. The field worked well enough, even though both teams had to share a sideline. Also, like pretty much every other even in County Stadium, fans were consistently subjected to obstructed views.
But on the Packers would play, every years from 1953 until 1994. During that time, they had an overall record of 76-47-3. Makes you wonder why they didn’t push to keep playing there. By far the biggest game played by the Green and Gold in Milwaukee was a 1967 playoff game against the St. Louis Rams. It was the Western Conference finals, and in that game (highlights of which can be found on a very shaky video camera here ) Bart Starr and the Packers beat the Rams 28 -7, en route to an NFL title in the infamous “Ice Bowl” at Lambeau Field.
Alas, the dream of NFL Football in Milwaukee could not last forever. On December 18, 1994 County Stadium was sent off as a football field with a Packers last-second victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The comeback was led by that one quarterback every one says was really good. You know, the one with the cell phone? Anyways, it was the end of an era in Milwaukee. In six years’ time, County Stadium, it’s rich football past, unique atmosphere and adjacent beer mug with water slide would all be no more. The ‘Milwaukee games’ were repackaged to residents as ‘The Gold Package’ where Milwaukee residents get a crack at a few games at Lambeau.
I (vaguely) remember going to Packer game in County Stadium somewhere circa ’94 with my family, and most details escape me except for the pack of Green Bay Packers trading cards I purchased at the game. I still have the Bryce Paup trading card. I won’t be selling it anytime soon. It’s a buyer’s market anyways.
I hope you enjoyed the foray into football talk here, and perhaps this will be a continuing series of Milwaukee Brewers history combined from my hazy memories and the vast array of facts in the information superhighway. If you have any memories of County Stadium Packer games, feel free to share them in the comments.