GREEN BAY — The names just kept coming.
Before Mark Murphy could explain any of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that had gone on to bring the 2025 NFL Draft to Green Bay and before he could outline the logistics of pulling off such a blockbuster event or delve into the work that lies ahead, he spent more than five minutes rattling off name after name after name in appreciation.
So many, in fact, that halfway through he had to pause and apologize.
“You’re going to have to excuse me. I’m going to thank a lot of people here,” the Packers team president/CEO said Wednesday morning. “Because it takes a village to bring a draft to Green Bay.”
Indeed, it did.
And now that Murphy, the Packers, the city of Green Bay and its surrounding municipalities, Discover Green Bay CEO Brad Toll and a cast of thousands have succeeded in convincing the NFL to stage its marquee offseason event in Titletown in 2025, the process of actually successfully staging the event begins.
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“We are building an experience that is bigger than ourselves,” Murphy said. “It is an incredible, once-in-a-generation opportunity that will create a lasting legacy for Wisconsin. It will be exciting. And it’s an awful lot of work. We have less than two years, but we’re ready to get started.”
Although the Packers began their pursuit of the draft in 2016, Packers vice president of marketing and fan engagement Gabrielle Dow said the team got serious about its efforts in 2019 with the hope of landing the 2022 draft. But the league awarded 2022 to Las Vegas after it lost the 2020 draft to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Packers then submitted a bid for the 2024 draft and expressed their interest in 2025, but the league told them 2024 was being awarded to Detroit and the 2025 draft was “off the table,” Dow said.
That led the Packers to set their sites on 2027, only for the league to reverse course and inform the Packers this past January that 2025 was indeed back in play. Four months later, at the annual NFL spring meeting last week, owners voted to give the 2025 draft to Green Bay.
“Now, the work begins,” Dow said.
So what does that entail?
- Although the Packers were the first NFL team to be the driving force behind a bid to host the draft — Dow said previous draft hosts’ bids were led by convention and tourism bureaus, with the NFL teams in a supportive role — the NFL will be in charge of many of the logistics.
So, while the Packers’ proposal included all of the venues they have at their disposal, the league decides where, for example, the main stage will be for the three-day event.
The Packers would like the stage to be inside Lambeau Field, but the NFL will make the call. The league will dispatch a team to Green Bay next month to start the planning process, with countless more visits to follow thereafter.
“Over the course of the next two years, we’ll have many meetings with the NFL on how the event will be set up, and where the main stage will be located,” Dow said. “I’m here to tell you that is not our decision. That is the NFL’s decision.”
- Wherever the main stage winds up, it and other ancillary aspects of the event — the NFL experience, the green room, the media center, red carpet and fan areas — will all be located on what the Packers are calling the “Lambeau Field campus,” made up of the iconic stadium, Titletown, the Resch Expo convention center and the Resch Center arena.
- The date of the event also is to be determined, Dow said, with three windows currently being considered. This year’s draft in Kansas City was held April 27-29; that means the 2025 draft will most likely be April 24-26 or May 1-3.
- The team will work with local and state entities on the logistics on security, transportation, parking, media access, staffing and the like. The team also is in the process of putting together a host committee.
- The project has a $7.5 million budget, and the Packers are hoping the state of Wisconsin will include $2 million for the event, as is in its current budget proposal. The Packers have contributed $1 million.
“Financially, we are not going to make money on it,” Murphy said.
- Murphy said the Packers expect the draft to attract “almost 250,000 fans” to Green Bay and the state of Wisconsin, and create an economic impact of $94 million statewide and $20 million in the greater Green Bay area. One Packers home game generates an estimated $15 million in economic impact, Murphy said.
“It’s really going to benefit the entire state,” Murphy said. “We like to say it’s like a two-year infomercial highlighting all the benefits of Green Bay and Wisconsin. It’s a very rare opportunity for Wisconsin to be on a world stage like this.”
- Hotels in the greater Green Bay area have blocked off rooms for staffers from the NFL, the TV networks and other contractors involved with the event. There are still rooms available for fans, but many will need to stay outside of Green Bay.
“We fully expect fans will be staying overnight in cities throughout Wisconsin,” Toll said.
Just how many is hard to say, as some fans may come for the entire three-day experience, while others may come for the first-round picks on Thursday night and depart.
Murphy said organizers have explored the possibility of bringing cruise ships into the area if Lake Michigan conditions allow for it, and that the club has also been in contact with Amtrak to set up railway transportation from Milwaukee to Green Bay.
“The impact of this, obviously there’s benefits immediately, but as we look at it, this is going to benefit the Packers, Green Bay and Wisconsin for years to come,” Murphy said. “You can’t put a dollar figure on what the publicity and (having) people, five, 10 years from now, come visit Green Bay because, ‘Geez, I saw when they hosted the draft and I saw all the different things they have in the community. It’ll be a great place to not only visit but to live.’
“We’re a community-owned team, so for us, this is really our sweet spot. This is going to be a tremendous benefit for the community.”
- The obvious wild card in the Packers winning the right to host the draft is the unpredictable Wisconsin weather.
For instance, from April 12 through 15, Green Bay experienced four straight days of high temperatures in the 80s, including 86 degrees on the 12th and 82 degrees on the 15th.
Two days after that, on April 17, the high temp was 37 degrees.
Although the Green Bay area didn’t have any measurable snowfall this past April, 2.2 inches of snow fell during April 2022. On April 14-15, 2018, Green Bay was walloped with 21.5 inches of snow.
Murphy said NFL executive Peter O’Reilly recently joked with him that the possibility of snow falling during the draft “would be great,” but Toll said the league did inquire about how the team and the city would handle an unexpected draft-day snowstorm such as the one that struck in 2018.
“That’s a question we were asked. And it’s like, ‘Who knows how to remove snow better than Green Bay, Wisconsin?’” Toll said. “Even with the airport, they’re accustomed to that. They work with it all (winter).
“We’re probably better equipped than anywhere else in the country to deal with inclement weather.”
Murphy, meanwhile, pointed out Green Bay was recently named the No. 1 place to live in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
Then, he added, smiling: “I’ve heard from a lot of people across the league who question that (and said), ‘They obviously didn’t take those votes in the winter.’”