Welcome to the dog days of the NFL off-season, where a 13-second sound byte on a golf podcast becomes major news. Here is how Minnesota Vikings receiver Adam Thielen further alienated himself from Packers Nation in regards to Lambeau Field: AT: "There's nothing better than leaving Lambeau with a victory.."
Golf podcast guy: "What's that locker room like compared to what you have in Minnesota?" AT: "Yeah, it's terrible. And the whole stadium is not nice. There is nothing fancy, it's bleacher seats..." For the record, Thielen endured a sheltered childhood in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota before attending Minnesota State University en route to becoming an excellent NFL player. Thielen also came around four decades too late. Here is a game day shot of Lambeau Field circa 1980.
And an aerial picture from 1970, just after the facility enclosed the end zone seating...
Not much to see, no skybox seating and a small, basic press box. It was built at this point to host about six Packers home games per season. Even then, the venue's selling points included no obstructed views and close proximity to the field even from the upper rows.
Through 1994 the team outsourced part of its home schedule to Milwaukee County Stadium, which qualified more as a baseball park than a multi-purpose stadium. The left field bleachers were forever from the field, both teams were forced to utilize one sideline, the baseball diamond often remained unsodded - and a receiver could literally make a catch in a corner of the end zone, have two feet in bounds, and literally land in Row 3. Today's Lambeau Field is a vast improvement. The south end zone now stands tall with premium seating and video board that by December blocks the sunlight from the entire field. The grounds crew does a fantastic job maintaining a surface that remains green and no worse for the wear even after a snow game. It is a far cry from old playoff mud baths from days of yore. An atrium built in the early 2000s makes Lambeau an every day destination, one can grab lunch or dinner, visit the Pro Shop or visit the team Hall of Fame. It is also used for weddings and other business events and will host a NFL Draft in the near future. The Packers organization has bought property near the stadium that to enhance a business district that now includes an arena along with a baseball/soccer facility. Still, Lambeau Field borders a nice, quiet residential area to the north. Thielen has. a point on a cramped tunnel that leads from the visitors locker room. On another matter, the hotel in nearby Appleton used by most visiting teams gets high marks from players and coaches throughout the league. The Buffalo Bills stadium would be one of the better comparisons to Lambeau, an older (actually outdated) facility that is more cavernous, but has seat backs in the lower bowl and club sections. Then there is Soldier Field in Chicago, with the Bears franchise already counting down the days on its lease so they can move to greener pastures in the suburbs. That leaves US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis and its glass ceiling, which actually allows sunshine for a couple home games per year. It obviously ranks as one of the NFL's best stadiums and has already hosted a Super Bowl and Final Four. It also unfortunately sits smack dab in the middle of what has become a dangerous city with a police force that has been defunded. Tailgating options are also non-existent in comparison to Buffalo, Kansas City and Dallas. As a Wisconsinite who has visited Lambeau Field many times I do not look at the stadium much as a shrine that outsiders do - but a solid facility that does not overly gouge on parking and other incidentals. I can attest to the challenge of getting a butt cheek on an end seat during a playoff game, but virtually every seat (with the exception of behind the player benches) offers an excellent view of the action. And Adam Thielen is subject to his own opinion that will make one NFL news cycle on a pre-summer Monday.