Making a good idea even better

With better planning, the Packers' City Stadium experience could be even better,'s Steve Lawrence says.

A month or so ago, as my wife and I were driving through Green Bay's east side to watch a baseball game, we drove past City Stadium, home of the Green Bay East High School football team and home of the Green Bay Packers from 1925 to 1956.

My wife thought it would be a good idea if the Packers held the Family Night scrimmage there. I told her there were too few seats for that, so she revised her thoughts to simply holding a practice there.

Perhaps Bob Harlan was curled up with the golf clubs in the back of the truck, because a couple weeks later, the Packers announced they would hold a practice at their former home.

As with most ideas that come out of 1265 Lombardi Ave., the idea was a great one.

With a couple exceptions.

First, it was hot. Unbelievably hot. Perhaps that's why only about 3,500 fans showed up. Harlan wields great powers of persuasion, but I'm not sure he has an "in" with Mother Nature.

Second, the Packers decided to hold practice on the night of a Green Bay Bullfrogs baseball game. The Bullfrogs are a first-year team in the Northwoods League, which features top college players competing in a minor-league setting. The first-place team draws about 1,000 fans per game — more than 1,100 showed up on Tuesday night — and there isn't enough parking at the stadium lot for the baseball team, let alone another 3,500 Packers fans.

If it were 75 degrees out instead of 90 with plenty of stick humidity, that problem would have been exacerbated. Who knows how many fans decided to stay in their air-conditioned homes rather than go watch a football practice.

Perhaps in the future, the Packers can log onto the Bullfrogs' Web site, see when the team is out of town, and schedule accordingly.

Beyond that, though, the idea was a winner. From the perspective of someone who's played the game, anything that breaks up the monotony of practice is a good thing, and a little extra energy from the spectators is never a bad thing.

"It felt like a high-school atmosphere," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "It was electric in the air. It was probably our best practice of the preseason until the two-minute (drill)."

From the perspective of someone who's also coached the game, anything that gets the players to go just a little bit harder — especially considering the wilting heat — makes the evaluation process much easier.

"I think it's special, I think we all agree with that," coach Mike McCarthy said. "It was a great idea, and I think it's everything we expected it to be. I think the crowd was great. They're always great. Just a great atmosphere to practice in."

The players and fans enjoyed the experience, and the timing was perfect with it coming between the start of training camp and Saturday's Family Night Scrimmage. For all involved, let's hope Tuesday's practice — with perhaps a little more forethought — becomes a tradition.

Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to Send comments to

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