It's been four years since Cheesehead TV covered the annual Packers shareholders meeting in 2010 when the organization discussed potential plans for what was then called the "Titletown Development District," which has morphed into the "Titletown Entertainment District."
For the past several years, the Packers have been buying acres of land adjacent to Lambeau Field—much of it west of the stadium along Lombardi Ave.—to develop and create a source of local revenue.
Despite being years in the making, it's perhaps surprising that the franchise has done little to commercialize and attract potential shoppers and visitors outside of the Cabela's that opened last year.
Granted, the Packers appeared to have made the right choice in taking their time and choosing Cabela's as one of their first developments. As a retail destination that attracts the outdoorsy type, Cabela's meshes well with the largely rural Green Bay market that's the smallest in all of professional sports.
One takeaway from the shareholders meeting four years ago, and maybe one of the reasons why development has come so slowly is it seemed to be spearheaded by former Packers vice president of administration and general counsel Jason Wied, who has since retired due to health issues.
“We think we can build something that’s world class,” said Wied in July of 2010. “We think we can build something that people will enjoy from all over the Midwest and around the world."
Among the ideas suggested by Wied was a youth sports complex with multiple baseball and football field capable of hosting high-profile events such as the Little League World Series and Pop Warner Championship. Lofty aspirations, to be sure. But also realistic with the right leadership.
Wied expressed hopes that the Titletown District could attract up to 7 to 8 million visitors per year up from the 2 to 3 million Lambeau Field attracted in 2010.
Another reason for the seemingly slow pace of progress could be that the Packers don't want to step on the toes of already existing local businesses.
Several parcels of land owned by the Packers are leased to current businesses, such as Sideline Sports Bar, which makes sense in such close proximity to a professional sports stadium. Unfortunately, on other parcels of land sit white elephants such as an empty Big Lots and a recently-closed Kmart.
As the budget retail outlets move out, the area seems ripe for rejuvenation.
With this year's edition of the shareholders meeting coming up in just days, here's 10 ideas that should be considered, whether at Thursdays meeting or in future years:
10. Winter Attractions, Ice Rink & Sledding
In a nod to MAS Studio plans published online, it makes sense for Green Bay to embrace its "Frozen Tundra" aura and offer some winter activities.
Like the rink at Rockefeller Center in New York, skating becomes more fun in the shadow of Lambeau Field, as would a children's sledding hill.
9. R.V. Park
The Packers already embrace the tailgating experience at Lambeau Field, but they don't allow R.V.s inside the stadium parking lot.
Obviously prime real estate on Lombardi Ave. wouldn't be spent on an R.V. Park, but a small permanent structure that offers hook-ups and facilities would be used nearly year-round.
It would have made the perfect home to the "Madden Cruiser" back in the day.
8. Baseball Stadium
Plans for a baseball stadium seemed to have cooled off after the Green Bay Bullfrogs signed a five-year lease with Joannes Stadium in 2012.
In the not-so-distant future, however, the lease will be up and the summer-collegiate league team will be looking for a more stable home.
A ballpark that could also be host to high school, Legion and other levels of baseball might find renewed interest.
7. More Retail
Cabela's was a good start. Now it's up to the Packers to figure out what type of retail outlet will work next.
They have to be careful, however. They don't want to compete against themselves and the newly expanded Packers Pro Shop, which now includes non-Packers branded clothing lines.
Boutique shopping may be the answer or non-clothing outlets such as electronics and domestic merchandise.
6. Health and Wellness Facility
Now that a good portion of the Packers roster has embraced yoga, maybe it's time to bring the resources in-house, or at least next door.
A health and wellness facility was suggested back in 2010 and still makes sense today.
After all, there was an attempt at the world record for the largest Zumba class in the Lambeau Field parking lot just last year.
Water aerobics or aqua fitness fits the mold too.
As recently 2011, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported a hotel was being considered inside the Lambeau Field parking lot.
This may be the best example of not wanting to step on the toes of other business owners that make their living on providing lodging for Packers games, however.
But given the lack of hotel space within walking distance of Lambeau Field, this is also something that's sorely needed.
4. High-End Dining
The Packers already offer dining within Lambeau Field in the form of Curly's Pub and a yet-to-be-unveiled new restaurant as part of the atrium's renovations.
What the Packers don't have, and what the city—in general—lacks is high-end dining.
Imagine the aforementioned hotel built inside the stadium parking lot. And now imagine a rooftop restaurant overlooking the playing field.
Seems like a good place to host visiting dignitaries and woo potential free agents like Julius Peppers.
No, it wouldn't exactly be a commercial enterprise, but condominiums in the shadow of Lambeau Field would seem to be inevitable.
They could also serve the team by providing either temporary or permanent housing for players.
2. Youth Sports Complex
Whether it's outdoor football fields, baseball diamonds, soccer pitches or tennis courts, or indoor basketball courts and hockey rinks, the support of youth athletics makes sense for a sports franchise.
Hosting an event the caliber of the Little League World Series is something else entirely, but hosting local and regional tournaments would be a good start.
1. Exhibition Hall
There's already an exhibition center next door to Lambeau Field at Shopko Hall and the Brown County Arena, operated by management company PMI, but it's also a space that's arguably outdated.
A new home for trade shows, equipped for the latest technology, would seem to be in order.
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