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The most popular couple in Shawano, Wis: Doug Burris and his wife, Beverly, have over the years accumulated 331 season tickets to Green Bay Packers games at Lambeau Field.
?I?ve been a Packers fan since the team played at the old City Stadium back in the 1950s,? said Burris, 67, who lives in Shawano, Wis. ?Whenever the Packers played, I wanted to be there.?
These days, he can take 330 people with him.
Burris, a land developer, owns quite a bit of real estate at Lambeau Field, 331 season tickets, which makes him the most popular man in Shawano ? population 8,730 ? especially at this time of year. The Packers, who open training camp Saturday, have a waiting list for season tickets of 74,500 fans. Lambeau Field seats 72,928, according to the team.
?Pretty soon, the phone will start ringing again nonstop,? Burris said. ?When business is really popping, I?ll get between 40 and 50 calls a day.?
When Lambeau Field, then known as the new City Stadium, opened on the west side of Green Bay in 1957, a bistro in Shawano named Stan & Bud?s, which had distributed tickets for the team since the 1920s, bought 350 season tickets.
In 1980 Burris purchased four tickets from Stan & Bud?s. Eleven years later, he purchased Stan & Bud?s.
As part of the deal to buy the bistro, which is now called The Home Stretch, Burris received 331 of the 350 tickets controlled by the previous owners.
?The tickets were the reason I bought the place,? Burris said. ?As deals go, it wasn?t a bad one.?
Burris, a father of five who has been married to his wife, Beverly, for 37 years, said he enjoyed doing business with an extended family of Packers fans who live in New York, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, South Dakota, Michigan, Iowa and Texas, and any other state with transplanted cheeseheads.
?I don?t advertise, it?s all word-of-mouth,? said Burris, who charges anywhere from $140 to $500 a ticket depending on Green Bay?s opponent. ?There are a lot of Packers fans out there, so I never have to worry about tickets going unsold.?
Six years ago, Packers season-ticket holders were asked to pay a one-time fee of $1,400 a ticket to cover the cost of renovating Lambeau Field. Fans that did not pay the fee had their season tickets revoked.
That year, Burris sent the Packers a check for the one-time fee of $463,400 , spreading the cost among his clientele. ?Mostly all of my customers paid the fee,? he said. ?People who didn?t were quickly replaced.?
Burris?s seats sell at face values of $59 (end zone), $64 (end zone to the 20-yard line) and $69 (from the 20 toward the center of the field). For the tickets he sets aside to sell on a week-to-week basis, customers, including his children and five grandchildren, have until a week before game time to decide on purchasing tickets before they are offered to someone next in line.
?It?s a business,? he said. ?My kids understand that.?
Doug Nicholson, the owner of the Ivanhoe Pub & Eatery in Racine, Wis., has purchased large amounts of tickets from Burris the past five years. Nicholson purchased 50 tickets ? at $140 a ticket ? for the home finale Dec. 30 against the Detroit Lions.
?I?ll raffle off the tickets during the season, and those who win will all go to the game together by bus,? Nicholson said. ?Everyone wants those tickets because it could be Brett Favre?s last game.?
In recent years, Burris has fielded several offers for his entire ticket package, including a $1 million offer from the owner of a sports bar in Green Bay. Burris turned him down.
?The one-time fee I paid is refundable to anyone who gives back their season tickets, so that meant the offer was really more like a half-million dollars,? he said.
?It doesn?t matter anyway, because I?m a die-hard Packers fan, and I worked too hard to get my tickets to ever want to give them up.?