For the second straight year, the late winter in Green Bay will be a little quieter for Packers fans.
When it was announced that the Packers were going to cancel Fan Fest, I was admittedly upset. The two and a half day event that Fan Fest had evolved into was a great way to celebrate the success of the Packers, as well as gather fans from across the globe. The connection of the team with its rabid fan base was never stronger than during Fan Fest. Yet once again, fans are left to wonder why this is not taking place.
The official release from the team is vague at best in explaining its reason for cancelling the event:
The Packers are forgoing Fan Fest for 2012, and will continue to evaluate the event. Our goal is to enhance the event by examining its structure, programming elements and fan feedback. We also will be looking at the time of year for the event. The event’s future is undecided at this time.
The organization has enjoyed hosting the event during its six-year run and appreciates the interest and support of the thousands of fans who have attended.
It’s an reason. It’s not a great reason, but it’s the reason fans will have to live with for another year.
The question I have to ask is how much time is needed to examine the structure, elements, and fan feedback to provide a satisfactory fan fest.
When Fan Fest was cancelled in 2011, it actually made some sense. The Packers were coming off their Super Bowl victory, so the schedules of the executive level, coaching staff, and players had been pushed back several weeks. The NFL was preparing to start its lockout, which would have prevented player access to Lambeau Field. And of course, money played a part in the decision:
There will be no Packers Fan Fest in 2011. The NFLs labor problems and a decline in ticket sales have prompted the Packers to pass on putting it together for next year.
Here lies the problem. A year later, and the Packers have yet to fix the problems that supposedly surrounded the event. That is a major fail on their part.
The biggest issue I have with the cancellation of the event is the timing. Fans never had the opportunity to thank their team for their Super Bowl win last year, in part due to the lockout. The Packers were coming off a 15-1 regular season this year, coupled with a disappointing first round loss in the playoffs. What better time for fans to be able to say thank you, as well as allow the team to do a little PR work to compensate for the early exit in the playoffs this year. Makes sense, right?
Of course, this is the same marketing department that allowed this snafu to go public before its scheduled release date, so maybe we should not be surprised they dropped the ball on Fan Fest-again.
What I do hope is that the team does not become complacent in dealing with their fans. While I do not think this will happen, the cancelling of the event did cause me to ask this question:
Is canceling Fan Fest a sign that the Packers are overconfident in their fan base? That they’re good enough to not have to do this?
Let’s hope this is not the case.
Was Fan Fest perfect? Far from it. Was it too expensive for the program it offered? A little bit. Was it too stretched out over two and a half days? Yes. And was it crawling with autograph hounds who were more interested in a black sharpie hitting the gold of a helmet than the actual player signing it? Yes. But Fan Fest was also a fantastic place to bond with fellow fans, as well as meet a few legends and hear them talk. That is what I will miss again this year, the connection with the Packers family on all levels.
Maybe next year I’ll get the opportunity to thank the Packers for everything they mean to me.
Filed Under: John Rehor