Shuttered due to the Covid-19 pandemic since March 13, the Packers Hall of Fame will reopen today to visitors and fans the team announced.
The HOF is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last schedule entry time slated at 3:30 p.m. as visitors have 1.5 hours to complete their tour. Masks are required, hand sanitizing stations are positioned throughout the hall, plexiglass barriers are at staff points of contact, and cleaning teams will be ever-present.
From humble beginnings, the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame has grown into a major part of the Lambeau Field Atrium complex. It’s the only hall of fame dedicated to a single NFL team.
Vince Lombardi’s had some direct parting words to Bill Brault in 1966 after the avid Packer fan and Green Bay restaurateur met with the head coach to discuss the creation of a team hall of fame.
“And don’t screw it up—Lombardi said something to that effect,” Brault said in a 2009 interview. “I wanted to be sure he understood exactly what we wanted to do, and he gave the go-ahead.”
The Packers dynasty of the 1960s was at its zenith, and there was increasing interest in the team and its history. Brault, a member of the Green Bay Visitor & Convention Bureau, conceived the idea based on more than civic pride. The independent venture could draw tourists to the National Football League’s smallest city and help boost the area economy.
Brault did not disappoint Lombardi, establishing a temporary display of team memorabilia in the concourse of the Brown County Veterans Arena. The hall of fame was an instant hit with local citizens and summer tourists.
Brault said Lombardi visited the display before it opened to the public. A surprised arena worker called Brault and asked what he should do. “I told him to let Vince in,” Brault said. “Here we were, not even open yet, and guess who shows up to have a look.”
Player inductions began in 1970 as eight former stars from the 1920s formed the inaugural class, including Curly Lambeau, Johnny “Blood” McNally, Lavvie Dilweg, and Jug Earp.
When the non-profit Packers Hall of Fame constructed a new facility in 1976, the President of the United States attended the dedication. Several major additions and renovations in the 1980s and ‘90s elevated the hall to one of the tops sports museums in the country.
But the best was yet to come.
Former Packers’ president Bob Harlan approached the hall of fame board members with a proposal to incorporate it into the proposed $295 million renovations to Lambeau Field. A new agreement was struck with the Packers, who agreed to manage the daily operations of the hall. The hall of fame closed its doors in December 2002 and reopened at the renovated Lambeau Field complex in September 2003.
The atrium underwent a major renovation in 2015, including a brand-new Packers HOF on the first floor.
Take a crack at the quiz below and test your Packers HOF knowledge.
1. How many inductees are in the Packers Hall of Fame?
2. Who was the President of the United States that dedicated the Packers Hall of Fame?
A. John F. Kennedy
B. Lyndon B. Johnson
C. Gerald Ford
D. Jimmy Carter
E. Ronald Reagan
3. Who is not a charter member of the Packers Hall of Fame?
A. Curly Lambeau
B. Don Hutson
C. Cal Hubbard
D. John “Blood” McNally
E. Mike Michalske
4. What years were there no inductions in the hall?
5. What jersey number adorned the famous “receiver” statute in front of the former Packers Hall of Fame in the Brown County Veterans Arena?
1. – B. With the induction of Antonio Freeman and Dorsey Levens in August, the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame now has 141 members.
2. – C. President Gerald Ford helped dedicate the new 17,000-square-foot Packers Hall of Fame on July 12, 1976. In the ensuing 12 months, more than 60,000 visitors toured the hall of fame.
3. – B. Surprisingly, Don Hutson, Packers legend and Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver, was not part of the initial class. Hutson was inducted into the hall of fame with the second class in January 1972.
4. – A, B, and C. There were no players inducted in three years: 1971, 1980, and 1990.
5. – E. The number “88” jersey adorned the statue of a green-and-gold uniformed player with outstretched arms catching a pass. The statue was atop the “world’s largest football,” which featured 42 autographs of many former Packers greats and other contributors who donated $1,000 each in a HOF fund-raising campaign in 1985.
-If you answered all five questions correctly, you are a Packer football genius.
-If you answered four questions right, you are entitled to feel very good about yourself.
-If you got two or three correct, there is hope for you.
-If you got one right or failed to answer any of the questions correctly, you’re probably a Bears of Vikings’ fan.