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Next to Lambeau Field, a Place Where Cheeseheads Come Together

Next to Lambeau Field, a Place Where Cheeseheads Come Together

In Green Bay, the field at the mixed-use development next to the Packers’ home stadium was designed as a place for football-obsessed fans to celebrate, win or lose.07OURCITY TTOWN8 1 d870 superJumbo

Green Bay Packers fans, known as Cheeseheads, congregate and show off their team gear at Titletown.Credit…Evan Jenkins for The New York Times


In Titletown, games of catch have an open invite.

Deangelo Marshall, for instance, had gone to the regulation-size football field at the complex — a 45-acre mixed-use development adjacent to Lambeau Field — to throw passes to his stepson Paul Clay, 13. Another boy, around Clay’s age, joined their crew for a few throws, and later an adult did the same. But there’s something about the space that brings strangers together.

Marshall, a Chicago transplant who moved to the Green Bay, Wis., area for college, looked around the field. Bobby McFerrin’s 1988 hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” had just played through the loudspeaker on the gloomy Sunday afternoon in mid-September. It was the day of the team’s home opener, and fans played catch, kicked field goals, executed cartwheels and shared laughs.

“There’s always someone here,” said Marshall, 44, wearing a Packers T-shirt, ripped white shorts and a relaxed smile.

It was eight hours before kickoff, and as the afternoon wore on, raucous fans would crowd the area, some drunk on more than just the sunny anticipation that marks a fresh start. But it’s afternoons like the one Marshall spent with his stepson, and the more than 350 days the Packers aren’t playing at Lambeau Field, that Titletown’s park was built for.

A man wearing a green Packers T-shirt, white shorts and white sneakers and a teenager wearing a green hoodie, tie-dye pants and multicolored sneakers lean on an oversize gold and black replica of a Super Bowl ring.
Deangelo Marshall and his stepson Paul Clay paused a game of catch to pose on a supersize ring commemorating the Packers’ 1968 Super Bowl win over the Oakland Raiders.Credit…Evan Jenkins for The New York Times



Ariens Hill, which is 46 feet tall, is green in warm weather and frozen in the winter for tubing.
Credit…Evan Jenkins for The New York Times


Six men, wearing yellow shorts and green jerseys emblazoned with the number one, play drums in a line.
The Tundra Line, the official Packers drumline, performing at Titletown.Credit…Evan Jenkins for The New York Times


Several N.F.L. teams in recent years have built entertainment districts in the areas surrounding their stadiums in a bid to generate more revenue. Patriot Place, the roughly 1.3 million-square-foot shopping center that wraps around the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium, has been a boon for the team’s owner, Robert Kraft. The center has generated between $8 million and $10 million, accounting for about 10 percent of the yearly budget of Foxborogh, Mass., where it’s located, William Keegan, the town manager, told WGRZ in Buffalo, N.Y. (There has been discussion of the Bills adding a development as well.)

Titletown, which opened in 2017, features shops, restaurants, business spaces and residential homes. But what distinguishes it is its park, free and open to the public year round. The park tries to appeal to Green Bay’s famously football-obsessed fans and more casual visitors alike: A cheese-themed playground and an area for fans to practice their timed 40-yard dashes share space with a tubing hill and a variety of pop-up attractions, including areas for yoga and tai chi and a space for a book club.

The accessibility and variety befit the only publicly owned major professional sports franchise in North America. The land beneath Titletown is owned by the Packers, and some of the buildings there are jointly owned with or leased to various partner companies — but the park is clearly for the public.

“No developer would take a third of a development and make it a park, but for us, it’s not about trying to make a profit,” said Aaron Popkey, the team’s director of public affairs. “It’s more about providing this amenity, this asset, to the community.”

The Packers, formed in 1919 as a semiprofessional team, joined the N.F.L. (then known as the American Professional Football Association) in 1921 and soon faced financial trouble. Local businessmen incorporated the team as a nonprofit two years later, which helped keep the franchise afloat as the league gravitated to markets in bigger cities. The shift to nonprofit status led to offering fans the ability to be shareholders (albeit ones who pay no dividends and whose shares cannot be traded). It’s become a way for fans to feel a literal sense of ownership of their beloved team, and for the team to raise money — significant money. The team has conducted six stock sales in its history, most recently last winter, when it raised $65 million.

“For communities this size, I think, having an N.F.L. team, it’s an anomaly,” Popkey said of Green Bay, which has a population of about 107,000. “It’ll never happen again.”

A bearded man's face fills the frame. He is wearing a green "Packermania" hat, yellow-framed sunglasses and a blond wig. His face is painted green and yellow.
Brad Borchardt in his alter ego “Packermania” get-up, modeled after the wrestler Hulk Hogan.Credit…Evan Jenkins for The New York Times


Six men raise cups of beer. Four wear green shirts, three of which appear to be Packers-themed.
A group of fans toasting their favorite team before the game.Credit…Evan Jenkins for The New York Times


A family of six, including an older couple, three other adults, and a little girl, sit on a long green hill. Other people sit on the hill behind them.
The Hein family, including 1-year-old Avalyn, on Ariens Hill.Credit…Evan Jenkins for The New York Times

Four hours before the Packers game against the Chicago Bears, Avalyn Hein, 1, poked her head out from a hole in the cheese jungle gym. Her parents, Brandon and Lora, and grandparents all mimicked her smile and then followed as Avalyn waddled over to a bench.

Hein, 32, was raised in the Green Bay area and spent much of his childhood at Lambeau Field. His father placed him on the Packers’ season-ticket waiting list not long after he was born, and he didn’t receive tickets until just before his 30th birthday.

The Heins planned to attend the game later that evening, but first they wanted Avalyn to experience Titletown. She particularly enjoyed running up and down 46-foot-high Ariens Hill, which is frozen in the winter for tubing.

“Everybody feels like they have a piece in this,” said Hein, a Packers shareholder. He cradled Avalyn in his arms, brushing a strand of blond hair out of her eyes.

Both father and daughter wore Aaron Rodgers jerseys. They were hardly the only ones. The quarterback, who led Green Bay to its Super Bowl XLV victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, is a hero to many fans despite a controversial 2021 season. Rodgers reportedly demanded a trade last spring because of friction with the front office, and though he ended up signing a three-year, $150.8 million contract extension, he remained in the headlines throughout the season — most notably when it was revealed he had misled the league and the public about his Covid-19 vaccination status. (Though the league never mandated vaccinations, it said that about 95 percent of players had gotten the vaccine, along with almost 100 percent of personnel.) Rodgers said he had been “immunized” against the virus, and after facing criticism he railed against “cancel culture” and the “woke mob.”

A young man in a yellow shirt and white cap and a young woman with a green sweatshirt tied around her sit on a lawn playing Connect Four, with a field goal post in the background.
Joseph Riskey, 20, and Elle Julius, 18, playing a game of Connect Four near the regulation-size football field.Credit…Evan Jenkins for The New York Times
Two teenage boys on a football field. The one on the left, dressed in black and red athletic gear, has just kicked a ball, and the one on the right crouches beside him, pointing at the ground.
Two young fans practicing field goals on the Titletown field.Credit…Evan Jenkins for The New York Times


A young boy in a green Packers shirt and red shorts smiles, perched at the top of a yellow cheese-themed playground slide. The face of an older man, also smiling, peeks out of a hole above the slide.
A grandfather and grandson playing on the cheese-themed playground at Titletown.Credit…Evan Jenkins for The New York Times

This article is part of Our City, a series focused on how people around the United States use public and shared spaces to build community.

But the national culture wars seem to melt away in Titletown. Packers fans came for the season opener from across the Midwest, including Bradley Stone, 46, who arrived with his family from Duluth, Minn., in their mobile home. It was the 14th birthday of his son, Madden, and the family spent the afternoon testing the 40-yard dash area. As his wife, Kirsten, 45, shouted “Go!” Stone took off, followed by his daughter, Ella, 11, and Madden. The walkway that leads from the field to Ariens Hill was lined with restaurants and a bank and dotted with foosball tables, cornhole sets, bocce courts, shuffleboard courts and Ping-Pong tables, complete with rackets and paddles ready for guests.

“No one steals ’em,” said Jackie Krutz, Titletown residential and programs manager, gesturing to the Ping-Pong equipment.

Krutz is responsible for developing and overseeing many of Titletown’s programs and large events and works closely with Craig Dickman, managing director of TitletownTech, a start-up venture capital fund that formed out of a partnership between the Packers and Microsoft and is situated along the walkway between the field and the hill. One area of the TitletownTech building features floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the whole development. Dickman said that being able to look through the windows and see people using the facilities gave “context” to the company’s work, which is focused on companies with forward-looking goals, like Fork Farms, which develops indoor hydroponic vertical farming.

“It creates this little microcosm that does breathe meaning into what’s being done in a unique way,” Dickman said.

It would have been difficult, he said, to attract so many start-ups to the area if not for the Packers and the unique way the franchise and the community are intertwined. Later that evening, as 15 million viewers on NBC tuned in, Rodgers methodically led the Packers to a 27-10 win over the Bears. The fans inside Lambeau Field, many wearing Cheesehead hats, roared and waved white towels.

A blond boy in a green T-shirt appears to be asleep, his head resting on a large fake block of yellow cheese.
Jayse Riskey, who traveled from Grand Forks, N.D., taking a Cheesehead-style nap.Credit…Evan Jenkins for The New York Times 

Having Said All Of That

If you’re ready for a new fit and a cool look make sure to consider some of these ideas. Which one of these jerseys fits you can’t wait to wear and show off? Let us know, we know that you can’t go wrong with anything you pick.


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