Draft Town Green Bay


Earlier this week, NFL.com Insider Ian Rapoport [Ed. note: If you work for the Shield, isn’t the title “Insider” a little redundant?] reported that Packers president Mark Murphy believes that Green Bay is “in the mix” to host the 2019 NFL Draft.

While the Draft has me glued to the TV for 3 days absorbing numbers and insight on players I otherwise would never have heard of, having attended several of the events – both NFL and NBA – being there is just not enjoyable. There is a lot of waiting around, smartphone gazing, and consumption of expensive watered-down beer. All of these things are much more efficient and cost-effective in the comforts of one’s home or a tavern.

From a media perspective, most members will tell you that it is just as easy to cover without having to be onsite. New York and Chicago are major media markets in which outlets have a presence. Even still, many would prefer to stay at home and bang out their coverage to file, or to offer real-time social commentary.

So, it is no secret that the event is made for television, and, as such, to make as much money as possible. It provides more platforms for more sponsorship dollars. For Chicago, it has paid off – for the league, the town and the fans.

According to Fox Business, a “study commissioned by Choose Chicago and carried out by Temple University’s Sports Industry Research Institute, found that last year’s NFL Draft produced $81.6 million in total economic impact and attracted about 200,000 attendees.”

We know it’s a money grab. Despite the feigned notion that it appeals to fans, if sponsors weren’t willing to pony up, it would still be in a dingy New York hotel. The League makes no bones about it. Said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, “At one time the Draft was simply a business meeting. It has become a week-long festival for incoming prospects, fans and business partners. It has become one of the most anticipated events of the sports calendar and has turned into an off-season Super Bowl as our sponsors look to activate with on-site, on-air and online promotions in Chicago and around the country.”

The thing is, New York and Chicago are cultural destinations beyond sports. While it’s easy to question whether fans would flock to Lambeau the way they do a major metropolis to have brands bash their heads in at a sponsored-driven NFL theme park, I wonder why prospective first rounders would get excited to visit Green Bay for the first (and possibly only time). Having worked with draftees over the last several years, there is a mystique to visiting New York and walking the red carpet into Radio City Music Hall. The Draft, really, is their moment. They may not last long in the league, nonetheless make it to a Super Bowl, but for one night, they are the center of the sports world.

Logistically, while Green Bay has an airport, a good number of VIPs and massive men flying into Milwaukee. As for hotels? Good luck. You’ll have team personnel, players and media staying in airbnbs for four figures or 45 minutes away in Appleton or Manitowoc.  Better yet, imagine these baller agents flying coach into Appleton on a puddlejumper and getting the last car at the Hertz, which is almost certainly a Ford Focus and then driving 45 minutes to and from Green Bay every day, eventually becoming numb to the smell of cheese curds that permeates every fiber of the cloth upholstery and settling into the Red Roof Inn to sleep every night.

With all due respect to the State of Wisconsin and the legacy of the Green By Packers, the stars of Draft week deserve bright hot lights, not the frozen tundra.