A rentable house on Shadow Lane across from Lambeau Field is available to rent for game weekends and includes everything from a viewing deck to custom Green Bay Packers decor. Sarah Kloepping/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY – Steve and Bonnie Knier leased a Packers party house for the first time during the Oct. 22 New Orleans Saints game, an improvement over the chartered bus they used for previous family reunions at Lambeau Field.
"This has the feeling of inviting people to your home, with a backdrop of Lambeau Field," Steve Knier said. "That makes it special."
The house at 1199 Shadow Lane, owned by Paul and Zoi Belschner of Hobart, is across the street from the main Lombardi Avenue entrance to Lambeau Field. It is at the very eastern end of what could be considered Green Bay's prime beachfront property — 14 houses directly across from the atrium side of the stadium.
The Belschners bought their house in June 2016, renovated it and opened it in time for the Wisconsin-LSU game in September of that year. They book the house through VRBO, Airbnb and personal relationships.
The house cost the Belschners $259,000, according to Brown County real estate records. They also remodeled, at a cost of more than $70,000, according to city of Green Bay building permits. The overall cost was low enough to allow them to afford to rent.
"You can be $500,000 all-in and get a return for your investment," Paul Belschner said, calculating the point at which it becomes unprofitable to rent. "The market pays what the market pays and there are only eight (regular season) home games."
The house received extensive renovation, some for practical purposes and some to meet building and health codes. It sleeps 12 people.
The garage was remodeled and will seat about 30 people, and has room for more standing. A deck was added to the garage roof, a common sight along the Lombardi Avenue side of the block.
The garage sports Packers-themed decorations and even has a name: Ron Wolf's Hall of Fame Clubhouse. The former Packers general manager was even feted there once.
The Belschners charge $4,500 for a home-game weekend, or $300 a night the rest of the year. With 5 percent sales tax, 10 percent room tax, security fee, cleaning fee, credit card fees, and VRBO or Airbnb fees, the total weekend cost can be more than $6,000.
They prefer to rent for multiple nights because "once you open the doors, you have to clean."
Maintaining the house requires meeting state and county health codes and the expectations of guests. For example, Belschner said, bedding and dishes have to be washed at appropriate temperatures. They do the work themselves, along with their two teenagers.
Other services they can provide at additional cost include hosting a tailgate party and providing products from Titletown Brewing Co., American Foods Group or other local businesses with which they have relationships.
Belschner, who is president and CEO of Base Companies, a commercial development company, estimated annual operating costs, which include property upkeep, licenses, utilities and a "fairly significant" DirecTV bill, will be about $10,000 a year. He expects property taxes will nearly quadruple.
All of which made for a fine weekend for the Knier family. In addition to attending several Packers games a year, the Kniers, who live in Cary, N.C., hold an annual family reunion. This was their first at a Packers house.
The gathering consisted of about 30 adults and a dozen or so children.
The Kniers also were happy to be within walking distance of the Packers' Titletown District, with its three playgrounds and football field.
"The grandkids have been at the park almost every day," Steve Knier said.
The property is available for Christmas parties, graduations, weddings and more.
Being near Lambeau is an effective year-round selling point.
"We had a family from Russia here," Belschner said. "They spoke no English. We talked in the backyard. They knew the iconic image of Lambeau Field. It's a global brand."