Mark Murphy worked the controls of a ceremonial crane, and as he lowered a symbolic scoreboard onto an artist’s rendering of the new Lambeau Field expansion, the project was officially underway.
“I don’t think I have a career in that,” the Packers president and CEO said of his crane-operating skills. Murphy’s work in leading the Packers into a new era was his more important contribution on this day.
It has begun. On this day two years from now, Lambeau Field will sport an additional 6,600 seats as the centerpiece of a development project that is as much about Green Bay and its surrounding communities as it is about the lucky 6,600 fans whose names will graduate from the waiting list to the rank of season-ticket holder.
“Since the announcement last week, I’ve heard from many fans on the waiting list,” Murphy said, which invited a laugh from the crowd gathered outside Lambeau Field for Thursday’s ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony. “This will help us remain competitive both on and off the field.”
The symbolic scoreboard Murphy lowered onto the plywood model of the south end zone expansion bore these words: “2011 expansion, building for the future, building for the community.”
“People have been on the waiting list 10, 20, 30, 40 years. They want to sit outside. They want to be out in the elements,” Packers VP and General Counsel Jason Wied said in explaining the addition of outdoor seating. “That’s who this will benefit primarily, the people that have been on that (waiting) list for a long, long time.”
Murphy and Wied shared the podium with local politicians, who found nothing but positives for their communities in the Lambeau Field expansion.
“This is the future and we can build upon it,” Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach said.
“Great day to have confidence in the Green Bay Packers,” Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt said.
Ashwaubenon Village President Michael Aubinger added: “All the way around, this is nothing but a positive for us.”
The ceremony included 12 shovels, and Ahman Green turned one of the shovels in representing all Packers players. Green was a star running back for the Packers during the previous Lambeau Field renovation and expansion.
“I was here in 2002 at the groundbreaking ceremony then. I can’t wait to come here and watching the opening game,” Green said.
Wied emphasized that the expansion will be executed without cost to local taxpayers.
“Ten years ago the taxpayers of Brown County really stepped up. That’s what put us in position to do this. We’re very happy to do this on our own without asking for their help,” Wied said.
“We’re in position to do this. Now is the time.”