Mark Murphy would love to see the Green Bay Packers, one of the most recognizable brands in professional sports, take their show on the road to play in the NFL’s expanded International Series.
Don’t look for that to happen any time soon. With a sellout streak of 309 consecutive regular-season home games, losing a Lambeau Field home game would be wildly unpopular. And with a nationwide fan base that tends to fill any unsold seats for road games, opposing teams would rather not lose a game against Green Bay, either.
“Teams are very much reluctant to give up home games against the Packers,” Murphy said.
A poorly written rewrite of a story coming out of Jacksonville indicated the Packers would play the Jaguars in London in 2016. The Jaguars are in the middle of a four-year agreement to play one home game per season in London, with 2016 being the final season. That game likely won’t be against the Packers, Murphy indicated. Even before that report, Murphy had spoken with Jaguars owner Shahid Khan on the matter.
“We would love to,” Murphy said of playing in London. “In fact, I talked to Shahid and he expressed to me that he would be very reluctant to move a Packers game away from Jacksonville.”
A shorter preseason?
When the league and NFLPA were trying to hammer out a CBA before the 2011 season, Murphy talked frequently about replacing two preseason games with two regular-season games as a way to increase revenue. On Tuesday, Murphy said that 18-game regular season is off the table but he offered another schedule possibility.
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“There really is not a lot of push for that,” he said “I think with all the concern about player health and safety, it would be difficult to go from 16 regular-season games to 18. One of the things that has kind of been looked at is, do we reduce the number of games overall (to) three preseason games and 16 regular-season games? But obviously there’s a loss of revenue that comes with that.”
Asked later about that during a follow-up session, Murphy said talk of such a move was not serious in league circles and would need to be approved by the NFLPA.
A trip to Titletown
Murphy said an announcement will be “coming soon” regarding the Titletown District, the mixed-use development to the west of Lambeau Field that’s intended to draw fans to the area for restaurants, shopping and more – and, as a byproduct, produce more revenue for the team.
“What we’re really trying to do is build on the success of the redevelopment in 2003, trying to bring more visitors to the area and capitalize on the popularity of Lambeau Field as well as the Packers,” Murphy said. “Cabela’s was a very positive first step. That continues to perform very well. I think they’re up to 2.8 million visitors per year. They have roughly 50 stores nationally; this one is fourth in total revenue. It’s been very successful in terms of bringing people in.”
The Packers, Murphy said, possess 63 parcels of land encompassing more than 65 acres with an assessed value of $49 million. The area to the west of Lambeau Field looks dramatically different than it did just a few years ago, with Kmart, a gas station and a couple of restaurants among the buildings purchased and razed by the Packers.
The Packers will wear a new throwback uniform this season after celebrating the 1929-1930 champions once a year for the past five seasons. Murphy didn’t have an update on what team the Packers would be honoring or what game they’d be wearing those historic jerseys, other than to say an announcement would be coming soon. Training camp begins on July 30, so that announcement might be coming sooner than later.
Variable ticket pricing
Several teams have gone to variable prices for tickets, with different pricing tiers for preseason vs. regular season, and even tickets for marquee games costing more than a run-of-the-mill regular-season matchup. Murphy said the Packers are studying their options but there are obstacles. The big one is Green Bay having two groups of season-ticket holders. The Brown County ticket lottery is another consideration, Murphy said.
“I think that’s a question everyone’s debating,” Murphy said. “In theory, you’re paying the same amount of money, just more is going to the regular season and less is going to the preseason. But it allows people more easily to sell their preseason tickets” since Ticketmaster doesn’t allow people tickets for less than face value.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.