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Green Bay Packers in the running to host 2024 NFL draft and will go after Big 10 championship game

Richard Ryman
Green Bay Press-Gazette

GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers are finalists to host the 2024 NFL Draft.

Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said Thursday the team is one of three franchises vying to host the draft in 2024 and will apply to host a Big 10 championship game between 2023 and 2030.

"I feel confident. I think we'll be able to make a really strong case (for the draft). The criteria the league looks at, it’s not as set as something like the Super Bowl," Murphy said during a press conference Thursday after the annual shareholders meeting, which was streamed on the Packers' website.

"The new Resch Expo will be really helpful to us in that effort, as well as Titletown. By 2024, Titletown is going to look a lot different than it does now and be even more attractive as a destination." 

Reach Expo is a new exhibit center under construction across South Oneida Street, east of Lambeau Field. It is scheduled for completion in early 2021. The Titletown District is the Packers' 45-acre development west of Lambeau Field that includes business, entertainment, recreational and residential elements.

Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy speaks during the annual shareholders meeting on Thursday, July 23, 2020. The meeting was streamed to shareholders because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Notre Dame and Wisconsin universities are looking to reschedule the game they were to play this year at Lambeau Field in 2022, Murphy said. The game was canceled because of coronavirus concerns.

It was the second time in three years the shareholders meeting was held virtually. In 2018, the meeting was chased indoors by the threat of severe weather. Shareholders and guests watched the meeting on TVs throughout Lambeau Field while Packers executives broadcast from the media auditorium. On Thursday, they streamed the meeting from a conference room in the Lambeau Field Atrium large enough to allow them to sit apart from one another. 

The league and the NFL Players Association have agreed to start the season with closed training camps and no preseason games, and are negotiating other issues that will allow first rookies and later veterans to report to training camp.

"The first priority is getting the games in and getting them on television. If we are able to do that, it will cover our player costs. We are going to be very cautious whether we have fans in the stands," Murphy said. 

The Packers said they might allow up to 12,000 fans per game this season, but during the post-meeting press conference, Murphy tempered expectations. There could be fewer fans, or none at all.

"I do have a lot of confidence in the medical experts, both for the league and NFLPA. I am confident we’ll get a season in. As for fans, I’m not so certain. That’s going to be more difficult," he said.

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If fans are allowed, they will be required to wear masks and remain socially distanced in the stadium. Fans will be able to sit near other fans in their pods, but pods must remain apart. Also, tailgating in the Lambeau Field parking lots might not be allowed.

The Packers reported record revenue of $506.9 million, expenses of $436.6 million and profit from operations of $70.3 million for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, which ended in March. Net income was $34.9 million. Revenue and profits were up and expenses were down from the previous year, which is the kind of financial report to make shareholders happy. 

Green Bay Packers executives and board members socially distance Thursday, July 23, 2020, during the annual shareholders meeting. The meeting was streamed from one of the conference rooms in the Lambeau Field Atrium.

The Packers' corporate reserve fund is $411 million. The Packers said Tuesday when they released their financial results that they are hopeful they will get through the season without tapping the fund, despite expectations that revenue will be down significantly.

Changes to Lambeau Field continued even with the coronavirus threat. Clarke Hinkle practice field received new turf, and WiFi capability was upgraded in the Lambeau Field bowl. Also, more concessions stands were converted to the grab-and-go style.

Murphy said the virus threat accelerated plans to make all Lambeau Field transactions cashless.

The Packers will host a Pro Football Hall of Fame ring ceremony for former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue during the Packers-Chicago Bears game on Nov. 29, a Sunday Night Football contest. Murphy said Tagliabue, who is in the 2020 induction class, requested to have the ceremony at Lambeau Field during a Bears game.

"What he said to me is 'It's the best rivalry in all of sports,'" Murphy said. 

General Manager Brian Gutekunst said falling one game short of the Super Bowl last season was disappointing and tough to take, but he believes the foundation and culture of the team is built to compete for championships now and in the future.

The Packers were 13-3 in coach Matt LaFleur's first season, the best first-year record by a coach in team history. The Packers lost the NFL championship game 37-20 to the San Francisco 49ers.

The only major sports franchise owned by its fans, the Packers have 361,311 shareholders representing a little more than 5 million shares. Shares do not pay dividends and cannot be traded, although they can be transferred to family members.

Shareholders elect the team's board of directors, which increased to 46 this year with the election of new members Jan Allman, CEO of Marinette Marine Corp.; Wilson Jones, president and CEO of Oshkosh Corp.; Mark Kasper, owner and CEO of Amerhart Ltd.; John Schmidt, president and CEO of U.S. Venture Inc.; and Bobbi Webster, public relations director of Oneida Nation.

Webster is the first Oneida member elected to the board.

Terry Fulwiler and Michael McClone became emeritus directors because they reached mandatory retirement age of 70.

Directors reelected Thursday include Murphy, Marcia Anderson, Valerie Daniels-Carter, Ricardo Diaz, Andrew Farah, Jerry Ganoni, George Koonce, Larry McCarren, Dexter McNabb, Diane Roundy, Mark Skogen and John Zakowski. 

The Packers have streamed annual meetings for years to shareholders not attending in person, so the process wasn't new.

Attendance at the meetings traditionally was between 7,000 and 12,000 most years, but last year it drew only 4,200 shareholders and guests. It's likely even fewer would have attended this year, given the concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Contact Richard Ryman at (920) 431-8342 or rryman@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RichRymanPG, on Instagram at  @rrymanPG or  on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RichardRymanPG/