Saturday, April 25, 2009

Borchert Field, home of the Packers

In the early 1930s, the Green Bay Packers decided to schedule some home games in Milwaukee. The Cream City had been without an NFL team since the Milwaukee Badgers folded in 1926, and the Bays (who were drawing an average of 3,000 to 5,000 fans for home games in Green Bay) saw an opportunity to increase their fanbase, not to mention their revenues. They may well have sought to pre-empt a new club from claiming Milwaukee as its own.

Whatever the reasons for the Packers' decision, the first venue chosen for their Milwaukee home was none other than Borchert's Orchard, the very home of those same Badgers:

Although the outcome of that particular game wasn't to Curly Lambeau's liking, the experiment was a rousing success - the 12,467 fans who packed Borchert on that Sunday was by far the Packers' largest home attendance of the season.

The Packers would go on to play home games in Milwaukee for the next sixty years, at Wisconsin State Fair Park, Marquette Stadium and County Stadium. Although they would never return to Borchert Field, the Orchard holds a place of honor in NFL history as the Packers' first Milwaukee home.


  1. Chance, I looked this game up years ago on the Milwaukee Journal microfilm. The Packers announced the move of the game to Milwaukee on Sept. 9; the Journal's Oliver Kuechle wrote that the Packers "have long felt they owed something in the way of a game like this to their fans in this neck of the state but, as often happens, they didn't get down to it right away."

    Then, when they lost, he wrote that the Packers played "one of the sloppiest and most ragged games the club has put out sine it joined the league." As we know, they were on their way to their first losing season.

    He also wrote that the "line of promoters, real and tinhorn, who will now want to put a professional football team in the field here will still form at the right -- and please, boys, don't shove -- but Sunday's game didn't do them any good."

    Cliff Christl wrote about this game in the Sept. 5, 1993 edition of the Journal Sentinel. In that story, he reported that Journal sports editor R.G. Lynch said that Lambeau was so displeased with the seating -- they had set up temporary bleachers in right and left field -- and the parking at Borchert that he said "Never again." Kuechle apparently brokered the meeting that led to the Packers setting up shop at State Fair Park.

  2. Thanks for the assist, Tom - I remember reading that Lambeau was unhappy with Borchert (which we could have assumed based on the Packers never returning), but didn't have the specifics to hand.