GREEN BAY, Wis. — The line to get into Lambeau Field was wrapped halfway around the stadium at 7:45 a.m. Friday. No, this wasn’t a Packers home game. This was simply an opportunity to shovel out the foot of snow that had accumulated on the seats, walkways and field so the team could host its game Sunday afternoon against the Tennessee Titans.
Though the snow had stopped for the most part by Friday morning, the wind-chill temperature was 17 degrees, with the wind whistling by at 30 miles per hour.
But that didn’t stop about 1,000 Packers fans from showing up for a chance to get inside Lambeau Field and make $10 per hour to clear the snow.
When Packers facilities manager Todd Edlebeck arrived to work before sunrise Friday, it wasn’t early enough to be the first one on the scene.
“We were here at 3:30 to start plowing our parking lot, and we had about six people in line at that time,” Edlebeck said. “People started to accumulate after that.”
A total of 650 shovels were distributed, which was 200 more than the last time the Packers asked fans to shovel out the stadium. But that still left more than 350 others still waiting empty-handed outside.
Five shovels from the final bucket were handed to a group of college friends, all of whom are home for winter break.
“We barely made it in,” Gaven Brault, 20, said. “We were right at the end. There were still a lot of people behind us.”
Brault, along with friends Michael Ignasiak, Eric Robinson, Dan Reigh and Matt Meyer, had all been to plenty of Packers games. But they wanted to be a part of the shoveling experience, for various reasons.
“A little spending money,” “to get my mom off my back,” and “for a night on the town” were among those reasons.
“We’re staying until it’s done,” Ignasiak said. “I don’t have anything else to do, so until they kick us out. We packed some food, packed some granola bars. We’re ready to stay. It’s the Boy Scout motto: ‘Be prepared.'”
For other shovelers, the money was needed for more serious matters.
“I’m on disability right now and need the extra cash,” Brian Jaeger, 29, said. “I’m out of work because of shoulder. I’m trying to use my left shoulder (to shovel) instead of my right one.”
Jaeger had his doubts about getting in, though.
“There were a good 500 people in front of us,” he said. “When we got here, the line was already around the stadium.”
According to Edlebeck, the shoveling was expected to take six hours, at which point they’ll then begin salting to get rid of the ice.
The last time the Packers asked fans to shovel, the team ended up losing two days later in a Jan. 15 playoffs game against the New York Giants. If this weekend results in a loss as well, the consequences won’t be as severe considering Green Bay has already locked up the NFC North and therefore a guaranteed postseason berth.
Regardless of the game’s outcome, the 70,000-plus in attendance Sunday will be able to enjoy the action from a seat devoid of snow thanks to the 1,000 fans who showed up at Lambeau Field on Friday morning ready to work.