Green Bay’s troubled tourism industry takes another blow


Lambeau Field is seen before a preseason NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – A decision by the Big Ten to play only conference games this fall means the Wisconsin Badgers’ match-up against Notre Dame at Lambeau Field this year is canceled. That loss is yet another hit to Green Bay’s local economy

When word came out from the Big Ten that the Badgers’ game against Notre Dame at Lambeau Field was off this fall, Brad Toll keenly understood the loss; yet another setback to a local tourism industry left reeling from COVID-19.

“It’s definitely a horrible blow to an industry that is already way, way down from where it would normally be,” said Brad Toll.

The president and CEO of the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau says since March the area has lost $70 million from canceled conventions, hotel bookings and lost restaurant visits. And half of the region’s 12,000 tourism employees have been laid off.

“They’re talking about the economy sliding into a recession. Really tourism has been and is, in a depression,” Toll said.

The Notre Dame game was expected to inject over $15 million into the local economy. But with the prospect now gone Toll is hoping things can turn around come Packers season.

Toll says if the Packers play 10 scheduled preseason and regular games, it could mean $150 million in economic impact. And he knows the team wants to find a way to put fans in the stands.

“It likely won’t be obviously 80,000 people, but at this point, anything will be better than nothing certainly,” Toll said. “They have that burden on their shoulder, they understand it and know what this means for our community.”

It would mean hope for an industry that had been counting on the UW vs. Notre Dame game.  Canceled, like so many other things, because of the pandemic.

“It’s bad. Thirty-five years in this crazy business and I have never seen it like this,” said Toll.

The Badgers played LSU at Lambeau in 2016. UW Athletic Director Barry Alveraz says the UW and Notre Dame are exploring options to reschedule the game.

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