Tundra Vision: For Local Economy, Every Packer Sunday is "Black Sunday"

Behind the scenes, a mini-industry thrives on the success of the Packers in and around Green Bay.

I'm no master of economic theory. I know there are plenty of people out there who understand micro- and macro-economics far better than I do. My comprehension of supply and demand is probably limited to concrete examples, right in front of my face.

You know, like going on StubHub and seeing Lambeau Field tickets going for less than $30.00.

It's pretty easy. The supply of tickets available for people is up. There are more tickets available than people who want to buy them. The critical issue is why the demand has dropped.

Oh, let's not totally overreact. It's December, and tickets have always been more available for the heartier crowd willing to brave the cold and snow on an aluminum bench. But more importantly, the product on the field isn't exactly in high demand right now, either.

It's the perfect time for the common fan who many have never seen a game live in person to get a chance to get in through the door for less money than they'll spend at Kroll's afterwards. It's even better for a family to afford to go together, assuming they can get enough tickets together. The idea of bringing a family of four or more is pretty cost-prohibitive at face value, much less at scalped prices. Suddenly, reality has opened up for a family to get seats for the normal cost of one ticket.

It's a silver lining on a rather gray cloud, especially if you look exactly how tenuous the Packers have priced themselves based on the winning ways they've enjoyed since 1992. When Mike Holmgren and Ron Wolf entered 1265 Lombardi Avenue, they promptly raised ticket prices, with an end-zone ticket going from $21 to $23. Today, that ticket goes for $74, and the prices have shot up over 25% in just the last four seasons.

Things are a lot different for the Packers today than they were in the old bowl days of the early 1990's. Two stadium makeovers and the addition of the year-round Atrium features have made Lambeau a must-see bucket list destination. The Packers often insist their price increases are justified, trying to stay in the middle of the pack of all NFL teams.

But the economic fabric of Green Bay and its fan base is more tenuous than other NFL team. With a metro area less than a third of #31 Buffalo (and literally 100 times less than that of New York City), the overwhelming support of the team and six-figure waiting list always is one of the wonders of modern professional sports.

But there's a limit to how many people can and are willing to spend, and simply put, the Green Bay fan and corporate support is based far more on passion over quantity. It is also highly dependent on the fact that the Packers compiled a 214-122 record from 1992-2012, by far one of the best records in the NFL over that time. The Packers have had only two non-winning seasons in a row during that span, so fans always seemed to know that setbacks were temporary.

Whether we like to admit it or not, those winning ways (coupled with 15 playoff appearances over those 21 years) keep the fans in the turnstiles, in the Pro Shop, and the publicly-owned corporation well in the black. But more importantly, in a small city with the Packers as the only game in town, an industry has built up around this team, profiting off those winning ways.

Imagine everyone from ticket brokers to tour companies, from book authors to marketing directors, from restaurants and hotels to vendors, from website content providers to every other possible way people have connected and profited from the Packers' success over the last 21 years.

And now, imagine what might happen to that local economy if the Packers were to have an extended losing streak. In a way, the Packers have been a bull market for 21 years, with "investors" banking on the sure bets offered by Reggie White, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, and Mike McCarthy. The faith those "investors" have in the CEO and COO (Mark Murphy and Ted Thompson) is just as paramount as real-life stockholders place in the CEO driving the corporations they're looking to ride to prosperity.

As the film in the Packer Hall of Fame says, Packer stockholders receive their dividends in wins. Been a while since our last dividend.

Its funny, when you think about it. Remember all of the times this preseason, when Vince Young and Graham Harrell were making us cringe about the backup quarterback situation, that someone told you, "It really doesn't matter who the backup is. If Rodgers goes out for any length of time, the season is pretty much over no matter who's back there."

Yet, here we are with Rodgers about to miss his sixth start, and Packer fans, in spite of what we were already assured about in preseason, are still pointing fingers and panicking about why they are on a losing streak.

Unfortunately, it seems that, despite the fans' inability to accept that the Packers can't win without Rodgers, the rest of the team appear to have accepted it all too well. The offense, blistered with critical injuries, has put up only two touchdown passes in five games. Paired with seven interceptions, its clear that Rodgers was a catalyst that could lift even reserves to higher levels.

But more disturbing is a defense that, despite finally having all 11 expected starters back on the field for a Thanksgiving matchup in which they were counted on to step it up, gave up 40 points to the Detroit Lions, looking miserable in the process.

That, my friends, is the biggest reason those tickets are going for less than $30 on the secondary market, and probably even less this morning down scalper's row. And it is also the reason why the Packers can't afford to have their entire success hinge on the health of one player.

Because the success of the team also affects the success of so many folks in the surrounding community whose livelihoods depend on that success continuing. The Packers' winning ways over the last 21 years is unparalleled; but perhaps even more important is even when times like this season have struck the team, it was temporary.

While so many of the passionate fans in Packer Nation are anxious for a return to a playoff-caliber team, think for a moment about the people of Green Bay who park cars, sell beads, rent out rooms and party houses, set up paid-admittance tailgate parties, run vendor booths, and literally thousands of other jobs that we never think of. Some cater to the average fan. Others cater to the well-to-do or corporate clients. But they all revolve around the passion to go see the Green and Gold live and in person.

For these folks, every Packer home game is "Black Sunday". And trust me: their anxiety to see the Packers continue winning may be far more personal than any of us.


C.D. Angeli is a lifelong Packer fan and feature writer at CheeseheadTV.  He is the co-host of the weekly Packers podcast Cheesehead Radio and is the good cop running PackersTalk.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TundraVision.

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Marlow's picture

December 08, 2013 at 10:54 am

Excellent article! Once a year for many years, my family has traveled to Green Bay from our home in the south to attend a Packers game. I have never had a bad experience in Green Bay. The people have always been so courteous to us, the food has been good, and our hotel rooms clean and functional. If anyone is thinking about taking advantage of the cheap tickets right now, I don't think you'd regret it no matter what happens on the field. Even if they lose, you'll have a lot of decent people to drink beer with and cry.

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