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Packers Family Night postponed

For the first time since it began in 1999, the Green Bay Packers will not conduct "Packers Family Night" due to the ongoing renovation of Lambeau Field. The intra-squad scrimmage may not return to Lambeau Field until 2004.<p>

"Family Night has been such a great success for us in the past and we're very disappointed that we can't do it this year," said team president Bob Harlan. "Because of construction deadlines, we've also asked the NFL that this year and next year we not play our first two preseason games at home. For those reasons and for purposes of fan safety, we'll forgo Family Night this year and most likely next year, and we'll look forward to its return in 2004."

In the past three seasons, the Packers held a glorified practice session about a week prior to their first preseason game on a Saturday evening at Lambeau Field. An average of about 50,000 fans paid $6 a ticket to watch the team conduct about 60 plays from scrimmage aside from other typical practice routines. Family Night, which was broadcast live throughout the state of Wisconsin, also included a question and answer session with head coaches Mike Sherman and Ray Rhodes, a practice jersey giveaway and a fireworks display.

The Packers were unable to move Family Night to Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, where the Wisconsin Badgers play their home games, because of renovations to that stadium as well. This year, 49 Packers practices will be open to the public (weather and field conditions permitting) at the Clarke Hinkle and Ray Nitschke practice fields across from Lambeau Field.

"We look forward to the future return of Family Night because it has been a huge success for us in that past," said Sherman. "We will hold a normal training camp practice that day (August 3), with emphasis on special situations that come up during the season.

"It will be an important practice, which will involve some scrimmage situations. At the present time, that practice is scheduled for 2:45 p.m., but may be changed with regard to weather, be it rain or the heat index."

If poor weather causes field conditions to be declared unfit for play would practice be shifted inside the Don Hutson Center, where workouts are closed to the public due to obvious space limitations.

"By practicing in Green Bay, we benefit with the relationship we have with the fans that come to watch practice," Sherman said. "It makes for an electric atmosphere as the railbirds 'Oooo' and 'Ahhh' at every play we run.

"The players feel the energy from the crowd and respond favorably to it. There cannot be a better place to have preseason than right here in this tradition-rich town."

The first practice of the season will run from 2:30-3:45 p.m., July 24, and is for rookies and first-year players only. Veterans will debut in accordance with the beginning of two-a-day practices, July 27.

From then until the end of the preseason, morning practices are generally scheduled from 8:45-11:25 a.m., with afternoon practices generally running from 2:15-3:15 p.m., or from 2:45-4:10 or 4:40 p.m.

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