Milwaukee became the Green Bay Packers home-away-from-homeduring the 1953 season. In the midst of the first Packers “dark age” between 1945 and 1958, the occasional Packers game played in Milwaukee was meant to drum-up fan support and extra revenue for the struggling team. Dismal team play, beginning in the late 1940’s had taken its toll on the once dominant organization, which was facing a dwindling fan-base at Green Bay’s City Stadium.
Gene Ronziani was the first Packers head coach to lead the team at what was then the newly built County Stadium in Milwaukee. Green Bay had played in the metro Milwaukee area before. They played at State Fair Park and at Marquette University, going as far back as 1933. Ronziani managed just two wins in that 1953 season, losing the inaugural meeting in Milwaukee to Cleveland 27-to-0.
Despite the best efforts of the Packers throughout the late 1950s (including a franchise worst 1-and-10 in 1958,) attendance at the team’s games in Milwaukee was steady. The team would play in front of twice the size of the average crowd at Green Bay’s City Stadium. County Stadium also provided the players with modern locker-rooms and the franchise with concessions revenue. Playing games in Milwaukee helped the team to raise over $100,000 something needed to avoid a looming bankruptcy. The league took notice of the additional revenue prompting those same officials to threaten a permanent move to Milwaukee if the team could not build a new stadium in Green Bay.
New City Stadium was the result. It was part of a city-wide referendum that passed in Green Bay. The team had a modern place to play, and the team was now coached by Lisle Blackhorn. Vice President Richard Nixon broke-ground at the site on the day of the team’s 1957 home opener against Chicago. The Packers won that game 21-17, though they would only manage two more wins on the entire season. Not until Vince Lombardi took-over the team in 1959 would they see their first winning season in over 12 years.
Even with the avoidance of a permanent move to Milwaukee, the organization continued to play at County Stadium until December 1994. The Atlanta Falcons were the last team to meet the Packers at County Stadium. Quarterback Brett Favre helped the Packers win one last time at County Stadium with a 9-yard touchdown run in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.
Notable Packers Games at Milwaukee County Stadium (1953-1994)
September 27th, 1953 – Inaugural game at County Stadium; 27-0 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
December 23rd, 1967 – First and only NFL playoff game held at County Stadium; Packers defeat the Los Angeles Rams 28-7 in Western Conference Championship; One week later the team hosts the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field for the infamous Ice Bowl.
November 10th, 1974 – Packers defeat arch-rival Chicago in the Bears sole trip to County Stadium.
November 26th, 1989 – 55,892 – record attendance for a Packers game at County Stadium; Green Bay beats the Vikings 20-19; Minnesota was the most played against opponent in Milwaukee, making 15 appearances at the venue.
December 18th, 1994 – Final Packers game at County Stadium; Brett Favre runs for a last-second touchdown to defeat Atlanta 21-17.