Piggybacking on Tom Silverstein’s post at JSOnline, it appears the Green Bay Packers have been put in a difficult situation when the NFL’s preseason schedule was released earlier this week.
By virtue of opening their preseason slate on a Thursday night at San Diego, it’s going to be tough for organization to improve upon their slumping annual Family Night scrimmage.
Last year the Packers had their lowest attendance for Family Night in more than a decade. No tackling, too little advanced notice because of the NFL’s lockout, a poor economy and too-high ticket prices for a glorified practice were all to blame.
Typically the Packers hold Family Night on a weekend, a Friday or Saturday night, which obviously helps attendance knowing for a lot of fans, they won’t have to go to work the next day. But that Thursday night opener has thrown a monkey wrench in their planning.
“There has been no official word from the Packers on the training camp schedule and probably won’t be until after the draft,” writes Silverstein. “But if McCarthy is going to incorporate tackling into the scrimmage, he has to decide whether it wouldl (sic) be done seven days before (on Thursday, Aug. 2) or six days before (on Friday, Aug. 3) the Chargers game.”
It’s a good thing the Packers are one of the most popular teams in all of professional sports. By selling more than a quarter million shares of stock this offseason and making around $70 million in the process to go toward the expansion of Lambeau Field, the Packers are on stable financial footing.
That’s on top of a hike in ticket prices this season too.
If the Packers are forced to hold Family Night on a Thursday night, and if they forego tackling once again, it’s difficult to see improved attendance at the event unless ticket prices are slashed.
And if ticket prices are lower, the Packers won’t make as much money on the event that’s been a boon to them in the past. There aren’t many other teams in the NFL that have the luxury of filling up a stadium for an intra-squad scrimmage.
There’s also the possibility that with 268,000 new shareholders, many of them will choose to make a pilgrimage to Lambeau Field for the free-of-charge shareholders meeting instead of paying to see Family Night instead.
Without a doubt, this year is going to be the most highly attended shareholders meeting in the history of the franchise.
All these factors could add up to the Packers not holding a Family Night scrimmage in 2012. And even if they do, it has the making of being another poorly-attended event on a relative scale.
I’ve been wrong before. I thought that by waiting until after Black Friday to sell shares of stock that many fans’ discretionary spending for the holiday season would already be spent. I couldn’t have been more off base.
In any case, it will be interesting to see how the Packers handle Family Night this year.