FOX 11 Investigates: What's riding on Packers' success?


    Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur speaks at his introductory news conference Jan. 9, 2019, at Lambeau Field. (WLUK image)

    GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- With a new coaching era underway, expectations are high for the Green Bay Packers. But there's a lot more riding on the team's success than just the playoffs.

    "When they're more successful, we are, collectively, more successful," said Paul Bursik, a professor of business administration at St. Norbert College.

    "From a financial state, in regard to tourism, certainly winning is huge," added Brad Toll, president of the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    Matt LaFleur is the first new head coach of the Green Bay Packers in more than a decade. When he takes the sideline for the green and gold, there will no doubt be excitement. But there will also be high expectations.

    "The expectations are high and will continue to be, we've been fortunate, about a 25-year run here. We've had a lot of success and we want to keep it going," said Packers president Mark Murphy. He sat down with FOX 11 Investigates to talk about the team's future.

    "I think we all have the same goal: We want to win championships number one because we are, first and foremost, a football team and that's the first priority," Murphy said.

    But Murphy says he also knows how much is riding on the team's success.

    When asked to sum up what's at stake with the organization's on field success, Murphy replied, "There's no question, when we win and are winning Super Bowls and making the playoffs, every part of the organization is better off and that includes the impact we have on the community."

    It's no secret that the Packers are a major piece of the landscape of Northeast Wisconsin, both economically and culturally.

    "In this stadium district in general, you are very much dependent on the success of the Green Bay Packers for your business, said Mike Walters, manager of the Jersey Store in Ashwaubenon.

    When asked how the Packers success impacts this store, Walters said, "Well, I think like any sports team, if the team is playing well, if there's a lot of enthusiasm, if they're winning, obviously, demand for merchandise goes up."

    Toll, from the tourism office, says the economic impact of a Packers home game is estimated to be $14 million.

    "There's obviously nothing else that we could book that would be bigger than a home game for the community. It's a huge, huge impact," Toll said.

    It's even better, he says, when the team is winning.

    "Winning games, it creates more of a demand. Ticket prices go up. As ticket prices go up and the demand for people wanting to be in our community on game weekends, that forces hotel prices up. So really, economically, we do a lot better when the team is winning," Toll said.

    "The intensity of fans is very much associated with the on-field success of the team and the willingness to spend is certainly going to affect the team's economic impact on the area," said Bursik, the business professor from St. Norbert College.

    He says the Packers impact goes well beyond economics.

    "We're just happier when the Packers do well as a community. The Packers are certainly an organization that ties people together. Some of that societal glue is missing or diminished a little bit when the Packers don't do well," Bursik said.

    The Packers impact extends in other ways. The organization has focused on off the field interests in the last decade by adding things like the Titletown District.

    "I think we've tried to set up the organization so that regardless of what the record is on the field we'll still be run well and still be successful off the field," Murphy said.

    Murphy says nothing can take the place of winning.

    "For years, we've got all these different ideas. What if we do this? What if we do that? They're all great ideas but at the end of the day, the very best thing we could do is put out a great product on the field and have a championship team," Murphy said.

    Perhaps the most measurable impact winning has is a home playoff game. That is basically an extra $14 million pumped into the local economy. It could be as much as $28 million if the Packers host two playoff games.

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