As the Packers geared up for the Super Bowl, I dug out the study released last fall on the economic impact of Lambeau Field on Green Bay and Brown County. The impact is huge: $282 million annually, including 2,560 jobs, $124.3 million in earnings and $15.2 million in tax revenue. The Packers are the foremost local asset used in marketing efforts for business recruitment, according to economic development officials, and two-thirds of those surveyed consider the team and stadium significant positive factors in their decision to locate in the area.
Now, obviously, most people don’t decide to work in Northeast Wisconsin just so that they can attend Packers games in the fall. (Well, I’m sure there are a few – you know who you are!)
It’s not about the games. It’s about the feeling of pride, the fact that the Packers put us on the map. It’s the realization that even though the New North’s 1.2 million population is small compared to most places with professional sports teams, the spotlight shines on us with every game. More than 100 million people worldwide were expected to watch Super Bowl XLV.
The NFL is a money-making machine, but in Green Bay, it’s not all about the money. As the only non-profit, community-owned franchise in American professional sports, it’s a story about heart. It’s about the ghost of Vince Lombardi and never giving up your dreams. It’s about community.
The Packers aura will shine bright well beyond the Super Bowl. “Lombardi,” a Broadway play based on the book When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by David Maraniss, opened in October to rave reviews – and there’s talk it may come to our area. A feature-length film, “Lombardi,” starring Robert DeNiro, is scheduled for release next year. It will focus on the week leading up to the 1967 “Ice Bowl” game between the Packers and Dallas Cowboys.
The Packers’ economic impact was derived by calculating Packers-related revenue, including restaurants and hotels, souvenir sales, attendance at other nearby venues and charitable donations. But how do you put a dollar amount on the economic impact of legends, of pride? The answer is you don’t. These are things that are simply, well, priceless.
One company that could have started anywhere but is proud to call Green Bay home is MEGTEC, this month’s cover story (page 26). MEGTEC is making great (Lambeau) leaps by improving lithium-ion batteries such as those used in electric cars. If they gain yardage with efficiencies that drive the cost down, perhaps we’ll all be driving electric cars much sooner than you think.
As the economy improves – and especially, as fewer workers remain to replace retiring baby boomers – many companies feel threatened that their best players may be recruited by competing teams. (Even the Packers’ B.J. Raji is not big enough to stand in the way of such threats!)