Interesting article in today’s Wall Street Journal about the trials the cities of Green Bay, De Pere and village of Ashwaubenon are going through as they try to name various streets after Packers legends, both current and future. In the end, the honor is going to be a hard one to get.
Lambeau Field, the famed home of the Green Bay Packers, is located at 1265 Lombardi Ave. As in Vince Lombardi, the Hall of Fame coach.
To get there, you can take Holmgren Way, named after Mike Holmgren, another Super Bowl-winning former Packers coach. And you’ll see Bart Starr Road and Reggie White Way, among other legendary names.
It is one of the great honors the city can bestow on a member of their beloved Packers. There’s just one problem: They’re running out of streets.
This summer, after the team and the city of Green Bay tried to honor current coach Mike McCarthy with a street, it became clear there aren’t enough streets left to name after Packer legends. Local businesses and residents of the three cities that the street would pass through couldn’t agree on a site.
The issue became so complex, said Michael Walsh, mayor of nearby De Pere, Wis., that Packers CEO Mark Murphy asked local leaders this month to table discussions to avoid distractions during training camp and the season. The Packers didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“What are we going to do? Change out the streets every 20 or 30 years because we have a new set of Packers that won? You can’t name a street after anyone who wins a ballgame,” said Mike Aubinger, the village president of Ashwaubenon, one of the towns the street would run through.
The main focus now is on a major road through town called Ashland Avenue, which Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt proposed should be named after McCarthy, who led the team to a Super Bowl win in February 2011. Schmitt said his requirements for Packer streets are that they are major and connected to one another. Which presents a problem.
“Any street that’s going to be renamed is around the stadium, that area is pretty built out, so it’s met resistance,” said Daniel Lindstrom, Green Bay’s city planner. “Everyone loves the concept; no one wants it on their street.”
Overall costs for the street name change could end up costing Green Bay around $400,000 due to a plan to rename Ashland Avenue — a road that cuts through the heart of Green Bay, Ashwaubenon and De Pere and will require numerous new street and highway signs to be replaced. There are currently seven streets in the greater Green Bay area named after Packers players. The most recent, was “Donald Driver Way” which is a small road just north of Dousman Street on the east side of Green Bay by the Titletown Brewery.
The street named after head coach Mike McCarthy — and it will include his full name to avoid confusion with former U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy — will be the eighth street named after a Packers player or coach. So far, there is Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, Tony Canadeo, Donald Driver, Reggie White, Brett Favre, and Mike Holgren. It can safely be assumed that Aaron Rodgers will get his own street someday too.
Here’s my suggestions going forward for how we should determine who gets their name on Green Bay area streets in the future.
1) All head coaches who lead the team to a Super Bowl victory. The precedent has been set with Lombardi, Holmgren and now McCarthy, why end it?
2) The honor should only be reserved for career-long Packers, or guys who make a contributing factor to a Packers Super Bowl victory. (This explains Favre, White and any future street named after Charles Woodson.)
3) Linebackers are reserved for city bridges. The one over Dousman Street that connects you to downtown Main Street is already called the Ray Nitschke Bridge — cross it on your way to Donald Driver Way! — I have no qualms with naming any other Green Bay bridge after Clay Matthews if he is a life-long Packer.
All we have to decide is which one, the Walnut Street Bridge or the Mason Street Bridge?
4) The idea that current Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt has for connecting all the Packers streets is a little bit over-kill. Lord know there are enough near the stadium which could get the job done, not all of them are as long as Ashland. That being said, it could be an interesting fight if they propose changing the name of S. Oneida St. to a Packer someday.