Packers slump: Badgers at Lambeau looms large

Richard Ryman
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GREEN BAY - If the Green Bay Packers turn their season around and make the playoffs with the worst record among division champions, it will improve their chances of hosting a home playoff game.

That's because short of winning all their remaining games, the Packers' best chance of making the playoffs is as a division winner, and division winners host the first round of the playoffs. At 4-6, they are unlikely to make the playoffs as a wild-card team, which would make a home playoff game unlikely, or of having one of the two best records in the NFC, which would give them a first-week bye and second-week home game.

Regular-season Packers games are worth an estimated $14 million-to-$15 million boost to the local economy, and playoffs games are probably worth more. Businesses can't count on playoff games, but they wouldn't be wrong if they've come to anticipate them. The Packers have hosted 15 home playoff games in 22 years.

The per-game estimate is based on a 2009 study of Packers home games by AECOM Technical Services Inc. for the Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District. AECOM determined that for 2009 the economic impact was about $12.3 million, based on the finding that 85 percent of fans at a typical game were from outside Brown County.

Since 2009, the Packers added more than 7,000 seats at Lambeau Field. Factoring in inflation, ticket price hikes and a trend toward more people coming to the games than have tickets, the $14 million-plus estimate seems solid.

All of which makes the Wisconsin-LSU game at Lambeau Field in September well timed. It serves as this year's extra game.

The economic impact of that game was estimated to be more than a regular Packers game because practically everyone who attended that game was from somewhere else. A lot of people came to Green Bay who did not have tickets, and a lot of LSU fans got here mid-week and began spending money.

It also highlights the importance of the Titletown District. In addition to providing the Packers with a stable source of nongame income, it's designed to attract more visitors to Green Bay year round, increasing the annual economic contribution by the Packers to more than $300 million ($282 million in the AECOM study).

Wisconsin Badgers red and LSU Tigers purple fill Lambeau Field on Sept. 3.

That said, the Packers are still going to want to have all the home playoff games they can. Local businesses aren't the only ones who benefit from them. In the 15 home playoffs games the Packers hosted since 1994, they are 10-5.

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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