Packers schedule: Which tickets to get, keep?
GREEN BAY - The release of the NFL schedule triggers major financial considerations for Green Bay Packers fans.
If you are a season-ticket holder, do you sell games? If you're not, which do you buy? And all fans are in the same boat when it comes to deciding to attend road games.
How games are spaced matters, too, because sometimes you need a week or two to reload the wallet, something easier to do this year than last, when the Packers had five home games in seven weeks.
"If I was a fan trying to pick one game this year, it'd be really difficult because there are some good options," said Dan Kasper, who lives in the Eau Claire area. "You have to go to Lambeau for one, though. I'd probably pick Minnesota at Green Bay on Christmas weekend. Seattle would be a close second, but the Packers vs. Steelers game (at Pittsburgh) might be one that intrigues me the most of them all."
Fans who want to attend games at Lambeau or on the road might find some bargains, especially in games with teams that don't have a strong road following or don't play well enough to attract their own fans at home, i.e. the Cleveland Browns.
"This is probably the weakest schedule I've seen in terms of attractive home opponents," said Bill Wenzel of Titletown Tickets & Tours in Ashwaubenon. "Not a lot of what I would call marquee match-ups. Not even teams with good travel bases. We've got some great road games."
Half of the road games are within driving distance, so that can cut costs for traveling Packers fans.
The following is a sampling of current ticket prices, factors that might affect those prices as the season progresses and reasons why fans might, or might not, want to attend games. Prices are based on a survey of the lowest seat-prices listed by seven secondary-market ticket brokers.
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Individual interest may vary.
» Sept. 10, 3:25 p.m., Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field.
All the big games, at least until the season actually starts, are in the first five weeks, and Seattle is the biggest based on cost. The Packers and Seahawks have developed a top-shelf rivalry, and this will be their sixth game in six years. Seattle holds a 3-2 edge, including the devastating 28-22 overtime playoff win in 2015. For added spice, former Packers running back Eddie Lacy returns to Lambeau Field with the Seahawks.
Average lowest price: $231
Range of lowest prices: $213-253
» Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m., Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Packers fans are known for driving up prices at other stadiums because they travel well. Add to that the opportunity to open the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which means a lot of Atlanta hometown interest, too, and this one comes in second in cost. Last year, Green Bay opened Minnesota's new U.S. Bank stadium during the second week and lost 17-14. And it lost twice in Atlanta, including 44-21 in the NFC championship game, the last game played in the Georgia Dome.
So, new stadium plus marquee match-up equals premium prices.
Average lowest price: $226
Range of lowest prices: $194-270
» Sept. 24, 3:35 p.m., Cincinnati Bengals at Lambeau Field, Gold Package.
This is the fourth-most expensive game on the Packers' schedule and second-highest at Lambeau Field, just ahead of New Orleans. The Bengals were only 6-9-1 last year, but this game hits a fan sweet spot.
"People really love Sunday afternoon games in September and October," said Dennis Garrity of Event USA in Ashwaubenon.
This is one of two Gold Package tickets on the schedule, which means a lot of Milwaukee-area season-ticket holders.
Average lowest price: $210
Range of lowest prices: $192-213
» Sept. 28, 7:25 p.m., Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.
It's a Thursday night game and only four days after the Bengals game, but the price holds up fairly well. It's a nationally televised game, and the Bears are the Packers' oldest, most traditional rival. They also haven't had a winning record since 2012, so if it wasn't Bears-Packers, these games would come in at Cleveland level. Instead, the two Bears games are at the mid-point of ticket costs for the year.
It also helps that Green Bay and Chicago are within easy driving distance.
Average lowest price: $180
Range of lowest prices: $160-198
» Oct. 8, 3:25 p.m., Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
This one could top all games before the year is out. Dallas and Green Bay have a long-running rivalry, too. Ice Bowl, anyone?
Dallas beat Green Bay 30-16 in Green Bay last year and the Packers retaliated with a 34-31 victory at AT&T Stadium during the playoffs.
Dallas fans are as fervid as Packers fans. If both teams are playing well, and probably even if they aren't, the cost of this one could increase.
For those so inclined, AT&T Stadium has a lot of standing-room-only tickets priced less than seats.
Average lowest price: $201
Range of lowest prices: $175-243
» Oct. 15, noon, Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Packers-Vikings was always a big game, even before Brett Favre made his unfortunate sojourn there. The teams split last year, with the Vikings winning their first-ever game in U.S. Bank Stadium and the Packers winning a shoot-out at Lambeau Field on Christmas Eve. This is one of the lower-cost games so far, and it's within easy driving distance. Also, U.S. Bank Stadium will host Super Bowl LII in February, so you might want to go early and determine the best sight lines.
As a Packers fan in Minnesota (they are a surprisingly large group), Justin Gundelach is looking forward to this game. It's the first year in several that the schedule works for him.
"Last year, it was the home-stadium opening for the Vikings, so getting tickets was nearly impossible. In 2015, it was the last game of the season, when the Vikings were doing well, so nearly impossible to get tickets. In 2014, it was scheduled for the Wisconsin deer-season opener, which is a nonstarter for me. Oct. 15 at noon works much better," he said.
Average lowest price: $153
Range of lowest prices: $135-183
» Oct. 22, noon, New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.
The Packers are seven games into the season before they get their first noon game at Lambeau Field. Noon starts are preferred by a lot of fans, so prices can hold value even if it's a questionable opponent, which New Orleans is not.
"The noon games are the best," said Andy Diehl of Kohler. "You get there at 10, have a beer or two, and after the game go to a bar, maybe watch the Sunday 3 p.m. games and then head home without traffic at 5 or 5:30. I'm home by 6, no days off work."
Average lowest price: $206
Range of lowest prices: $180-232
» Oct. 29, bye week.
» Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m., Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field, Gold Package.
The Lions ended a century-long (or it seemed) losing streak at Lambeau Field in 2015. Things reverted to form with a Packers victory last year. This Monday night game is one of five prime-time appearances for the Packers, so there is interest. It's also a Gold Package game, which means Southern Wisconsin fans either take a day off work or drive all night. It's the fourth consecutive year the Gold Package got a late game, though last year's Sunday game was more convenient.
Wenzel believes a lot of Milwaukee fans won't drive up for the night, which means there might be some bargains as this game gets closer.
Average lowest price: $183
Range of lowest prices: $158-205
» Nov. 12, noon, Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
It's the Bears. Ditto all of the above, except in Chicago.
Average lowest price: $174
Range of lowest prices: $146-211
» Nov. 19, noon, Baltimore Ravens at Lambeau Field.
It's opening weekend of the hunting season, a conflict the Packers avoided last year. Expect blaze orange to replace green and gold, and maybe a few more tickets will be available, too.
"I do also take a look at when they have a game on the opening weekend of the hunting season," Kasper said. "I'm always curious what will win out for people, hunting or Packers? I always choose the game."
Average lowest price: $159
Range of lowest prices: $140-170
» Nov. 26, 7:30 p.m., Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.
This game has a lot of sentimental attachment for fans. It seems as much a mutual admiration society as a rivalry.
"My dad and I met a lot of Steelers fans in Dallas when we were there for Super Bowl XLV," said Packers fan Jay Bushmaker, "They have similar history, passion and energy that Packers fans do, so I'm excited to go to a game at Heinz Field."
Pittsburgh, like the Packers, is one of the NFL's old-school teams and comparisons often are made about the blue-collar nature of each city. Pittsburgh played in eight Super Bowls and won six, the Packers in five and won four, including 31-25 over the Steelers in 2011.
"Two historic franchises, prime-time game and (maybe) both Super Bowl contenders late in the season," Kasper said.
It's the third most-expensive game on the schedule and might be an expensive game to travel to, being on Thanksgiving weekend.
Average lowest price: $220
Range of lowest prices: $196-269
» Dec. 3, noon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field.
Tampa Bay might be one of those teams on the rise. An exciting young quarterback in Jameis Winston and a five-game winning streak last year offer a glimpse of the team's potential. But it's also December in Green Bay, and it remains to be seen if Tampa fans will come here in the numbers they would if this were an October game.
Average lowest price: $151
Range of lowest prices: $136-165
» Dec. 10, noon, Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.
By far, the lowest-cost game on the Packers' schedule. That probably won't change because no one expects Cleveland to improve enough on its woeful 1-15 record to drive interest and prices higher. Unless, of course, Packers fans flock to Northern Ohio.
On the plus side, the money saved on game tickets could be used to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, within easy walking distance from the stadium. And the Packers probably will win.
Average lowest price: $79
Range of lowest prices: $65-97
» Dec. 17, noon, Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.
The third-cheapest game on the schedule, but $50 per ticket more expensive than Detroit on the road. Carolina was 6-10 in 2016, but was in the Super Bowl the season before, so it could be a challenging game for the Packers. Also, normal temperatures in Charlotte in December are in the 50s. Not exactly Phoenix, but balmy enough by Green Bay standards.
A half-mile from Bank of America Stadium is the Nascar Hall of Fame.
Average lowest price: $147
Range of lowest prices: $129-177
» Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m., Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.
Same weekend as last year, but night before Christmas Eve this time. It will be the Packers' third appearance of the year on NBC's "Sunday Night Football" (even though it's on Saturday) and its fifth prime-time game. It also could be a critical divisional contest.
"Division rival, Christmas weekend, Lambeau Field, 'Sunday Night Football,'" Kasper said, reeling off the reasons this would be his pick for one game at Lambeau Field this year.
Pretty much everybody's happy the game isn't on Christmas Eve.
"Last year, Christmas Eve kind of killed business," said Jim Kratowicz, chief operating officer of Titletown Brewing Co. "I think what we'll see is a normal Friday, Saturday stretch of business."
Average lowest price: $168
Range of lowest prices: $154-187
» Dec. 31, noon, Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
Second-cheapest game on the schedule, but if once again it decides the NFC North division winner, that could change. It has a sketchy reputation, but Detroit and surrounding suburbs have great restaurants other things to do, such as the fascinating Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.
Average lowest price: $92
Range of lowest prices: $77-117
Fans are advised to purchase tickets from reputable sellers, such as those who are members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, or from people they know. The association's members might offer money-back guarantees if a problem occurs with purchased tickets. If a deal seems too good to be true, the axiom that it probably is applies.