Big Ten's conference-only decision axes Wisconsin-Notre Dame game at Lambeau Field, teams commit to rescheduling in future
GREEN BAY – The Big Ten's decision to play conference-only football this year scuttled a plan for the University of Notre Dame to host the University of Wisconsin at Lambeau Field.
With the Green Bay Packers already indicating they will play in front of fewer fans this year — if fans are allowed into the stadium — the Big Ten decision constitutes another blow to Green Bay's economy.
The Badgers and Fighting Irish were scheduled to play Oct. 3 in Green Bay. The game was announced three years ago and was much anticipated.
The Big Ten said Thursday it will move to conference-only schedules if medical advice allows teams to participate in fall sports, including men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.
The universities confirmed Thursday the Lambeau Field game will not be played this year.
"What we do know is that we will not play any non-conference games this season, including the highly anticipated game against Notre Dame at Lambeau Field," UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said in a statement.
"We all share in the disappointment about that and are exploring options to reschedule those games. We look forward to playing Notre Dame in 2021 at Soldier Field in Chicago, and both programs are committed to rescheduling the game at Lambeau."
Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swabrick Tweeted a similar commitment to rescheduling the game at Lambeau Field.
Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said the team was disappointed, but looked forward to hosting the rescheduled contest in addition to more college games.
This year was expected to provide an economic bonanza for Green Bay. In addition to the estimated $140 million in economic impact from 10 Packers preseason and regular season games, Lambeau Field was scheduled to host the college game, and Green Bay was expected to benefit from Ryder Cup spillover. The Ryder Cup, scheduled for Whistling Straits in Sheboygan in September, was postponed this week to Sept. 21-26, 2021.
"It’s a horrible blow," said Brad Toll, president and CEO of the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau. "When we look at what we’ve already lost in other events through the course of the year, just with what we track, it’s basically $70 million of economic impact,"
Toll said that $70 million does not include professional sports or the Wisconsin game.
"There's no way to make that up," he said.
Each Packers regular season home game is worth about $15 million in economic impact to the local economy. A college game likely is worth a similar amount, although, when Wisconsin hosted LSU at Lambeau Field in 2016, many LSU fans came to town earlier than pro football fans normally do.
"The one thing we had (to cushion the blow) was an extra game with Notre Dame-Wisconsin. Now that’s gone too," Toll said.
Toll said not other industry, locally or nationwide, has been hit as hard as tourism, which he said accounts for about 36 percent of total unemployment nationwide. He said 50 percent of tourism workers are laid off.
It would be a boost if the NFL did play games this year in front of at least some fans, he said.
"The NFL has some great standards (for keeping fans and players safe) from my understanding. Hopefully, teams will work something out," Toll said.
Contact Richard Ryman at (920) 431-8342 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @RichRymanPG, on Instagram at @rrymanPG or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RichardRymanPG/