Packers Classic: Last Game at County Stadium

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Next Packers Classic Broadcast: Sunday vs. Atlanta Falcons (from December 18, 1994)
Packers Gameday at 11:00 a.m. on Newsradio 620 WTMJ - only on radio, not on TV

MILWAUKEE - For 42 years, Milwaukee County Stadium served as the Green Bay Packers' home-away-from-home, where 56,000 fans would often fill the house built for baseball, but fulfilling the need for football among Milwaukee sports fans.

But long before County Stadium, Vince Lombardi prowling the sidelines and Holmgren's heroes in the early 1990's, the NFL still called Milwaukee home.

The Milwaukee Badgers played five years in the Brew City in the 1920's before falling financially and having to fold.

When the Packers went on hard financial times, they decided to expand their fan base by playing games in Milwaukee in 1933.

In that year, they moved into Borchert Field, a baseball stadium housed where I-43 now rests on the north side.

1936 brought the team to its Milwaukee home for a decade and a half - what was then the infield of the State Fair Park race track.

Perhaps you've even parked your car or watched a concert on the ground where the Packers earned a world championship, shutting out the New York Giants 27-0 for the 1939 NFL Title.

After spending 1952 at Marquette Stadium, they moved to the house designed for the Milwaukee Braves in 1953.

Hall of Famer Bart Starr had plenty of great moments there. His teams were 28-16-1 in that stadium.

"In early games in the year, you were playing on a baseball field, because the turf had not been placed over the infield, so that was an adjustment you had to get used to." said Starr.

Yet he also explained that County Stadium's field was an improvement over the Frozen Tundra.

"County Stadium had the best turf we played on anywhere in the country. That was the turf around and outside of the infield. Later, when they would have to re-sod it, it was as good as the other."

Another interesting quirk about County: both teams stood on the same sideline, which made for some unusual conversations.

Bart Starr. | Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel"Interesting, to put it as one word, because we'd never seen that before," claimed Starr.

"You get into a baseball stadium, obviously, there had to be that change."

The most memorable contest among those he played in at County Stadium during his career was a 28-7 conquest of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1967 Western Conference Playoff.

That team had defeated the Packers two weeks before as part of a 10-game winning streak in an 11-1-2 year before getting beaten in Milwaukee.

"Facing them in the playoff game was a great challenge to us," said Starr.

"It inspired us tremendously. We had the exact pulse, and the exact primer to get into that game because of having been beaten by them earlier. We were ready to play."

Starr completed 74% of his passes that day, including a 13-yard scoring pass to Carroll Dale that gave Green Bay the lead for good.

But over the next 27 years, the Packers expanded and added lots of money-making amenities to Lambeau Field, and team president Bob Harlan began to see lost revenue opportunities hemorrhage out of the organization.

"Every time we would have either an executive committee meeting or a board of directors meeting, I'd watch our treasurer give this report and talk about Milwaukee and see the eyes getting bigger and bigger, and so I thought that we (had) to find a way to leave there, but we've also got to find a way to bring the fans with us," explained Harlan.

So he decided that the Packers game against the Atlanta Falcons on December 18th, 1994 would be the last at County, a game he wasn't even able to finish watching on site.

"The police in Milwaukee and Green Bay were concerned about my safety for the last game we ever played in Milwaukee. They made my wife and I leave the stadium early. We were actually out of the stadium with about 7:00 minutes in the fourth quarter. I'm about 30 miles up the road by the time Brett (Favre) dived in for that last touchdown. I've watched it a lot on television, but I'm sorry I missed it."

But he wouldn't miss Milwaukee's fans coming to Packers games.

The team instituted the gold package games for local season ticket holders, allowing those fans to attend two regular season and one preseason game.

It's a policy that remains to this day, keeping the legacy of County Stadium and Milwaukee's importance to the Packers alive at Lambeau.

"They still give strong consideration to fans who are still the prime base in the Milwaukee area. To me, that shows the great class and dignity of the Green Bay Packers organization," said Starr.