GREEN BAY — When the Green Bay Packers face off with the Los Angele Rams on Saturday, it will be the first time all season that ticketed fans will be in the stands.
For 20 years, Kari and Matt Van Lanen have spent plenty of Packers games at Lambeau Field, through dating, marriage, and now with two kids.
"I would say we go to all of them in most cases unless something happens," said Matt.
"When you’ve been a Packer fan for so long and you have season tickets, it’s like camaraderie and family that’s around you and your seats," said Kari.
But this season, the team closed the stadium to fans because of the pandemic, leaving the stands where memories are made and passionate fans unite empty.
"We know how honored and privileged we are to be able to even go. I think it was definitely a reality check this year to never take that for granted again," said Kari.
So when the Packers announced about 6,000 tickets would be up for sale for season ticket holders who opted in, Matt and Kari jumped at the chance.
"Stressful. Wanted to get it and knew it was limited," Matt said as he recalled the morning tickets went on sale.
"He was giving me updates on his queue number. I was like, 'oh no, we’re not gonna get tickets.' But it turned out and work out for us in the end," said Kari.
Tickets sold out fast, but the couple got lucky and scored two of them.
With COVID-19 protocols the experience at Lambeau Field will be different, but some things will stay the same.
"We leave the game with no voice, so I anticipate that to be exactly the same because we’re gonna be yelling even louder through our mask," said Kari.
As game-day inches closer, Matt and Kari are excited for their second date of the pandemic and even a slice of normal.
"That’ll be great to kind of do something that you were doing before all this started," said Matt.
"It’s distanced and not in our normal place, but just to walk through that entrance again I’m definitely gonna have to hold it together because I'm really excited," said Kari.
The Packers and Rams playoff game starts at 3:35 p.m. on Saturday.