Bears vs. Packers: Comparing the History of Soldier Field and Lambeau Field

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Bears vs. Packers: Comparing the History of Soldier Field and Lambeau Field

The Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears have a history that dates back to 1921.  The two teams have played 181 times in the regular season, with the Bears holding a 91-84-6 edge.  The two teams have also met just twice in the NFL postseason…the week after the attack on Pearl Harbor, in 1941 and the NFC Championship Game from last season.  The Bears won the 1941 contest 33-14 in a place the Chicago Cubs still call home…Wrigley Field. 

The Bears called Wrigley Field home from 1921 until 1970.  The Bears hosted five NFL Championship Games at Wrigley Field too.  It wasn't until 1971 that the Bears used Soldier Field as their home base.   The Packers won the NFC Championship Game 21-14 at Soldier Field in January of 2011 and then also won Super Bowl XLV a couple of weeks later.

The Packers know all about Soldier Field, going way back to 1937, when the then NFL champion Packers played the College All-Stars at the stadium that is near the shores of Lake Michigan.  The Packers played at Soldier Field seven more times before 1970, as they played the College All-Stars again, which was the reward of the NFL champions each year from 1934-1976.  Only twice, 1943 and 1944, was the game not played at Soldier Field, which was built in 1924.  The Packers went 6-2 against the All-Stars in the eight games they played at that venue.

The Bears moved to Soldier Field in 1971 and that has been home ever since, although the Bears played their games in Champaign (University of Illinois) in 2002, when Soldier Field was being renovated.  The Bears have hosted four NFC Championship Games at Soldier Field.

The Bears (specifically George Halas) were an important ingredient in helping the Packers get a new stadium in 1957, as Halas helped to rally the people of Green Bay to vote for a new City Stadium (later Lambeau Field).

 

The Packers had three other homes before they moved into their current home.  From 1919-22, the Packers played in Hagemeister Park.  From 1923-24, the Packers used Bellevue Park as their home.  And then from 1925-56, the Packers used the original City Stadium, which is located right on the East River in Green Bay.  Green Bay East high school still uses the downsized facility. 

The first game ever played at the current Lambeau Field was played on September 29, 1957, when the Packers defeated the Bears 21-17.

In addition to that, the Packers played in Milwaukee for a number of years for two or three games a year from 1933-94.  The first Milwaukee home was Borchert Field, which the Packers used in 1933.  The Packers then played at State Fair Park from 1934-51 (the site of the 1939 NFL Championship Game).

In 1952, the Packers used Marquette Stadium in Milwaukee.  And then from 1953-94, the Packers played at County Stadium (site of the 1967 Western Conference Championship Game). 

The Packers have definitely had a home-field advantage at their Wisconsin homes.  The Packers have a winning percentage of .654 in Green Bay, while they had a .631 winning percentage in Milwaukee.  Overall, the winning percentage is .649.  The Packers are already 6-0 at Lambeau Field in 2011.

The Packers have REALLY had a home-field advantage in the postseason.  The Packers are 13-3 at Lambeau Field, while they were 2-0 in Milwaukee.  Lambeau Field has been the site of three NFL Championship games (1961, 1965 and 1967) and two NFC Championship Games (1996 and 2007). 

 

Much has been said about the intense hatred that Halas and Curly Lambeau had towards each other, but that was really attributed to the play of their teams on the football field.  Aside from that, both franchises helped each other out.  For instance, it was Halas who played a significant role in getting league partners in 1922 to allow Green Bay and Lambeau back into the league after the Packers were banned for using college players illegally.  Ironically, it was Halas who originally discovered that infraction.

The Packers and Lambeau paid back Halas and the Bears during the Great Depression, when they lent the Bears $1,500 to meet payroll.  Halas also helped the Packers out after Lambeau left the franchise, like with the new stadium effort.  But there were two other instances that really helped out the team from Green Bay. 

For one, along with Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns, Halas highly recommended Vince Lombardi to the Packers, as they were searching for a new head coach in 1959.  That foresight would come back to bite Halas, as Lombardi and the Packers had a 13-5 record against Papa Bear from 1959-1967, not to mention the five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowl wins that Lombardi and his Packers won.

But the biggest contribution Halas ever made to help the franchise in Green Bay was in revenue sharing.  Owners like Halas and the Mara family of the New York Giants helped the Packers get an equal share of the revenue that was given to the teams in the NFL with the advent of the television contracts that made the league a monster in the 1960′s.

Yes, there has been bad blood between the two franchises, but that was mostly on the field.  No two teams have ever had a bigger impact on the NFL than the Packers and the Bears.  The Packers have won 13 NFL championships (the most in the NFL), while the Bears have won nine. 

 

Included in that total are the four Super Bowl wins by the Packers and the one Super Bowl win by the Bears.  Da Bears have 26 players enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while the Packers have 21.  No two teams in the NFL have more.

Of course there are Halas and Lambeau in the Hall.  And Lombardi. 

There are also players like Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski, Sid Luckman, Bill George, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka, Walter Payton, Mike Singletary and Dan Hampton of the Bears.

The Packers also have some notables, including Don Hutson, Johnny (Blood) McNally, Clarke Hinkle, Arnie Herber, Jim Taylor, Forrest Gregg, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Paul Hornung, Willie Wood, Henry Jordon, James Lofton and Reggie White.

Yes, the Packers and Bears have a rich history with all of their championships and Hall of Fame players and coaches.  The stadiums that they currently play in also have a rich history.

The Packers will try to add to their splendid postseason history at Lambeau Field after this season.  They have already clinched a bye and the right to host a NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Lambeau.  With a loss by the 49ers or a win against the Bears on Christmas night, the Packers will have secured home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

The Packers will try and use that clear advantage to propel themselves to Indianapolis, where Super Bowl XLVI will be played.  There, the Packers will try and become the second Green Bay team to win back to back Super Bowl championships. 

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