The annual meeting was delayed 30 minutes due to thunderstorms in the area, but fans didn't mind. Sarah Kloepping/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY - Celebrating a milestone anniversary and with Titletown District open, the Green Bay Packers would love to host an NFL draft in 2019.
They'd take it in 2020 or 2021, too.
Held in Chicago the past two years after a long run in New York, the draft has become a signature event in the NFL offseason. That success might make it harder for the Packers to bring it to the NFL's smallest market, but they're going to try, President and CEO Mark Murphy said Thursday at the annual shareholders meeting in Lambeau Field.
"It depends on what the priority is for the league. If it's just to generate revenue and room nights, we might be at a disadvantage," Murphy said. "I would still say it would be a tough one for us."
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The Packers in their application emphasized team and league history and the resources Green Bay will have, including the new Titletown District west of Lambeau Field. Hotel rooms are the biggest issue, Murphy said. By 2019, much of the Titletown District should be open and it will be the 100th anniversary of the Packers.
Next year's draft appears to be headed to Philadelphia.
Thursday's shareholder turnout was smaller than normal because of predictions of high temperatures and a line of severe thunderstorms that moved through the area before the meeting.
"Funny how we can all sit in a blizzard in November and not complain, but we complain about getting wet," said Debbie Bunkelman of Kewaskum, waiting out the early-morning storm in the Lambeau Field Atrium. "I was worried about the heat today."
As it happened, rain delayed the meeting for a half hour, but it also made the temperature lower than the predicted 90 degrees with 105-degree heat index. The temperature was 75 degrees when the meeting started. About 8,200 people attended Thursday, compared to nearly 12,000 last year.
The turnout was smaller, but the enthusiasm was not diminished, especially whenever anyone mentioned last year’s Rodgers-to-Rodgers Hail Mary play in Detroit.
“That never gets old,” Murphy said after one round of cheers.
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Murphy said the team is talking to the University of Wisconsin about hosting more Badgers games at Lambeau Field. The first will be on Labor Day weekend against LSU.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions. Scheduling for college is fairly complicated. We are hopeful this would not be a one-time thing,” he said.
The NCAA’s four-team championship playoff puts a greater emphasis on strength of schedule, and that could work in Green Bay’s favor.
“The reality is LSU would probably never play the Badgers at Camp Randall,” Murphy said.
The Packers also have contemplated hosting a bowl game, though that’s more of a stretch.
“The key would be getting a conference affiliation. Two conferences would be better,” Murphy said. “The perception we would have to get over a little bit is playing a game in Lambeau in December or January.”
The Packers recapped a number of issues already reported, including record $408.7 million in revenue, community contributions and development of the 35-acre Titletown District, which will include Lodge Kohler hotel, Hinterland Brewery, a Bellin Health clinic and a public park and plaza. Also, shareholders approved adding Marcia Anderson to the board of directors, bringing the total to 43, as well as re-electing 14 others.
Over 8,000 Packers shareholders attended the annual meeting on Thursday despite the weather. Fans share the Lambeau atmosphere and love for the Packers. (July 21, 2016) Jacy Zollar | USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Jeff Bailey and Drew Bailey, both of the Twin Cities, said they would come back to see the district when it opens.
"It will be great for the town. Drew said if they needed help paying for that, he'd buy a share if they'd sell them again," Jeff Bailey said.
He welcomed the high-end Lodge Kohler, though he probably wouldn't stay there.
"If will be great. The wealthy people will get that hotel and I'll get the other ones," he said. "The first year I came to a shareholders meeting, it was hard to get a hotel nearby."
Murphy said the popularity of Lambeau Field continues to grow. Last year, a record 175,000 fans took stadium tours, topping by 40,000 the record set the year after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV. He said the team is on track to top 175,000 this year.
Titletown District is expected to drive those numbers higher. Murphy told shareholders that investing in the district will help ensure the Packers stay in Green Bay by allowing them to remain competitive in the NFL.
"We are in a very fortunate position now. It's not always going to be that way," he said. "(With the Titletown District), if things changed, we're protected a little bit. I think it's going to be more and more challenging to compete in the NFL."
The district also will benefit the community, especially the park and plaza.
"Not only will it bring people to the community, but it will bring people in the community out," he said.
And, perhaps most important of all, sales and marketing committee chairman Mike Weller said Lambeau Field will have a bacon-themed concession stand through a partnership with Patrick Cudahy LLC.
"I didn't realize Patrick Cudahy would get quite the ovation," Murphy said.