GREEN BAY, Wis. — When the Green Bay Packers announced before the regular season fans would not be allowed inside Lambeau Field or its parking lot to begin the season, businesses in the area immediately wondered how that would impact them.
Brad Toll of the Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau said many hoped some fans would still make the trek to Titletown to enjoy game days.
Toll said that has not happened.
“We’re surging. Wisconsin’s in the news almost every night. They’re talking about Wisconsin leading the country in COVID cases,” Toll said. “That’s not going to put people in the stadium and honestly I think it’s really prevented even those people that come without tickets.”
Toll said the hope is visitors would help the Green Bay area economy manage the pandemic better. Without them, businesses have suffered to the point where some are being forced to close permanently.
“That’s $150 million in economic impact that won’t be coming into our community this year,” Toll said, if the Packers don’t allow fans inside the stadium all season.
Kenny Didier is general manager of Hotel Northland in downtown Green Bay. He said business is nowhere close to where it was last year. On weekends when there’s a home game, his hotel has managed to gain business by accommodating the broadcast crews of whatever network is carrying the game that weekend.
Didier said his business and others throughout the region rely on Packers fans to help them get through the rough winters.
“It’s absolutely an enormous economic uptick during those weekends,” Didier said.
Toll said the only way for things to return to normal is if Wisconsin controls the spread of COVID-19.
“We need to wear the mask and wash our hands and sanitize as often as we can and the numbers will come down,” he said.
Didier hopes people still patronize struggling businesses so they aren’t lost to the pandemic.
“If you value the businesses you have to go to them,” Didier said.