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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 17, 2014

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In Sports

The stadium may be rocking, but the press box is usually as quiet as a library. (PHOTO: Chris Callies / Harmann Studios)

In Sports

Lambeau's press box gets high marks because it is spacious. (PHOTO: Chris Callies / Harmann Studios)

In Sports

A view from a goal-line seat on the south side of the box. (PHOTO: Chris Callies / Harmann Studios)

In Sports

Packers historian Lee Remmel (left) works in a press box that bears his name. (PHOTO: Chris Callies / Harmann Studios)

In Sports

Remmel chats with longtime sportswriter Bud Lea. (PHOTO: Chris Callies / Harmann Studios)

A look inside the Lambeau Field press box


Step this way, ladies and gentlemen. It's time to take a tour of the Lambeau Field press box, which since 2003, goes by the official name The Lee Remmel Press Box. When you've been in the organization, and in the press box as long as Lee, you deserve to have it bear you name.

Just what goes on behind the glass high above the Packers' bench? Perhaps we don't want you to know … after all, maybe there's a reason the team tinted the windows.

Actually, it's business as usual, which means members of the media are tending to their weekly chore of covering an NFL game. Oh sure, there is free food and friendly banter amongst the scribes and TV types, but once the pigskin is in play, all eyes are focused on the field.

"While we talk about the sightlines and the food and everything else, we're really up here to do a job," said Tim Van Vooren, the veteran sportscaster at WITI-TV, who makes the Packers beat and the press box his home away from home. "I would rank Green Bay in the top-tier of press boxes in the league."

Re-done and refurbished during the latest round of Lambeau Field renovations, this office on the road for media members who cover the Packers is roomy and efficient. A three-tiered corridor with seating for 250, the view lets observers see the whole field … and even a portion of the Brown County countryside. This is the highest point in the stadium, so binoculars are a popular item on Sundays.

"I'm not complaining being too high up, because fans are a lot colder than me today," laughed Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal. "But I think it's important to be able to share your information accurately, and you need to be able to see what's going on. I could be a lot worse off … I'm at the 30 yard line."

Wilde has been on the Packers beat for 10 seasons now, having filed reports from every NFL city with the exception of Kansas City, where Green Bay travels next season. Cliché, but true for those who set up shop in press boxes around the league, is that there's no place like home.

"I've been in a lot worse," said Wilde. "Chicago (Solider Field) is a bad location; Miami (Dolphins Stadium) is a bad location. Detroit (Ford Field), you're way up high. Giants Stadium is even higher than Green Bay. Gillette Stadium (New England) you sit in the end zone. FedEx Field (Washington) is a tough place to cover a game."

Chatting with members of the press box brigade, Green Bay is a jewel compared to the rest of the NFC North. Others agree with Wilde that Detroit and Chicago both provide anything but the perfect work environments, and the Metrodome in Minneapolis gets a thumbs down as well.

"The Metrodome is always a concern," said Van Vooren. "If you are ever cast out to the baseball press box, you know you've really drawn the short straw."

"Oakland is the worst," said Lance Allan of WTMJ-TV. "You're crammed in like a closet. But Minnesota is a close second."

But one man's outhouse can be another reporter's cozy cove. Wilde said he sees beauty under the inflatable roof in the Twin Cities.

"Minneapolis is great … it's an open air press box with good sightlines," said Wilde. "But Vikings fans are walking past you all game, so that's never pleasant."

"You do have to know the system," said WISN-TV reporter Andy Kendeigh. "If you don't know exactly where you're going at halftime in the Metrodome, you're going to miss the meal!"

Free food may be the two favorite words in the media's vernacular. To some, it can be a measuring stick in rating the working areas around the league. The Packers stack up with the best of them when it comes to curbing the appetite of the working press. A combination breakfast and lunch is offered before every game slated to kick off at noon. When halftime arrives, another meal awaits, and is devoured promptly before the second half begins.

"I do give it points for consistency," said Kendeigh. "You always know at halftime you're going to have your choice of brats and hot dogs, chips and chili. Sometimes they have cookies out during pregame, but not lunch. So I've learned from Tim Van Vooren to stash them!"

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