Green Bay has few options for visiting NFL teams

Richard Ryman
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GREEN BAY – Visiting NFL teams staying in Green Bay sounds like a good idea, but it's stopped for no gain.

There are only a couple of hotels in Green Bay that could meet team requirements, and the Packers stay at one of those on the nights before games.

A Brown County committee on Monday considered a request from Supervisor Norbert Dantinne to "have the airport start a dialog with the Green Bay Packers to bring visiting teams through Austin Straubel and stay at the new Kohler hotel during Packers season."

The Packers have no control over where teams stay or how they travel, and Lodge Kohler, the four-diamond hotel under construction in the Titletown District, will not meet visiting team requirements.

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A typical visiting team needs 130 to 180 rooms, 10,000 square feet of meeting space, a kitchen that can feed the players and a certain level of security, said Jay Schumerth, senior general manager of the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton. Paper Valley, which will host all the visiting teams for the regular season this year, has 388 rooms and 38,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel designates its west wing for teams.

"We can pretty much keep players, coaches and staff in that end," Schumerth said. "I can hold that wing and I can still book other business."

Lodge Kohler will have 150 rooms and practically no meeting space. Also, its business plan includes the considerably greater revenue it will generate booking Packers fans for multiple days.

Teams contract individually with hotels, which must be willing to hold the space until the schedule is released. Because of its size, Paper Valley can do that, though Schumerth said there were occasions when he chose very large conventions over NFL teams.

Teams pay a fair rate, he said, and over the course of the season that and considerable food revenue from feeding players makes for good business. The hotel also attracts visiting fans who like to stay in the same hotel as the team, and they pay a premium rate to do so.

Paper Valley began hosting teams in 1989 and has an established reputation around the NFL.

Also, it is far enough away that it is unlikely to fill its rooms with Packers fans, who prefer to be closer to Lambeau Field. Hotels here can demand two-night minimums and charge premium rates for game weekends, which also is hard to pass up for a one-night, lower-rate guarantee from a football team.

Bernie Erickson, chairman of the county Planning, Development & Transportation Committee, said the committee recognized the scarcity of Green Bay hotels able to meet team requirements and the desire of hotels to cash in on booking fans.

"Green Bay is the hot spot for people to stay overnight for games," he said.

Brown County has 4,100 hotel rooms. The Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Ashwaubenon, with 353 rooms, and Hyatt Regency Green Bay, with 241 rooms, are the best bets for football teams. The Packers use the Radisson and the Hyatt has hosted teams, especially during preseason.

Travel time from Appleton is not an issue. The half-hour drive from the Paper Valley Hotel to Lambeau Field takes no more time than a lot of closer venues in larger cities, where traffic is worse.

Charters carrying the teams generally fly into Appleton International Airport, but often leave from Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport in Ashwaubenon after games.

Contact and follow him on Twitter @RichRymanPG, onInstagram at rrymanpgor on Facebook at Richard Ryman-Press-Gazette. Or call him at (920) 431-8342.

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