Daley: David vs. Goliath

Packers benefitted by traveling to play big-city opponents years ago

You could say the Green Bay Packers sponged off their big-city opponents for many years, but maybe the enemy sponged a bit, too.

Example: the Packers often played before crowds of 70,000 or more in New York, Chicago or wherever, and returned with 40 percent of the gate. When one of those Biggies played in Green Bay before a crowd of around 40,000, the visitors' dollar bundle was lighter.

How did big Town sponge? Going back many years, the Packers were quite a novelty (still are) and they'd always draw big crowds on the road. Green Bay developed a huge underground of fans around the country and it's been years since enemy parks didn't draw almost capacity when the Packers invaded.

The Packers were terrible on the field in the 1950s, but all the small-park home games were filled. Yet, the road attendance was a million more in that decade. Even in the winning 1960s when several thousand seats were added to the home stadium, the road numbers were huge. Vince Lombardi opposed Lambeau Field's enlargement, often wondering "how are we going to sell those seats?"

The Packers played 568 home league games and averaged 37,891. They played 560 on the road and averaged 44,099. A great road team!

Now, of course, the Packers are "even" with their big-city brethren since the Lambeau Field capacity has been increased to almost 72,000. And that figure often exceeds the crowds in the big cities, like Detroit (62,938), Chicago (62,197), San Diego (64,978), and others.

Many teams over the last few years have built new football yards and all, including Green Bay, with private boxes and special seating. Income from those sections are not included in that famous "40 percent."

Yes, it appears that "little Green Bay" has somehow pulled even with those population giants. It will still be a tough road ahead because the Packers don't have a billionaire owner, like many of their opponents.

Art Daley

Editor's Note: Packer Hall of Famer Art Daley is a featured columnist for Packer Report and PackerReport.com. The former Green Bay Press-Gazette sportswriter and sports editor has covered the team since 1941.

If you have a question or comment for Art, e-mail PackerReport.com managing editor Todd Korth at packrepted@aol.com, and your question or comment will be forwarded to him.

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