The costly silence of tourism in Titletown

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 3:29 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - We're getting our first clear indication of just how devastating the pandemic has been on the Green Bay area's travel and tourism industry.

In what would normally be the middle of Packers training camp, attracting thousands of fans a day, the Stadium District was quiet again Monday.

“It’s basically a nightmare that just won’t go away, it just keeps happening over and over,” says Brad Toll, Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau president.

Toll says since March, travel to the Green Bay area has nearly stopped and it’s been costly. Canceled conventions, no training camp, and at least some home games without fans add up to hundreds of millions in lost revenue.

“The figure where it’s at right now is probably over $100 million in just meetings and conventions that we’ve lost,” says Toll, “and you can’t get that back. The tax revenue that would’ve been generated to help local municipalities to pay bonds on our convention center and the Resch Center, you can’t get that money back, it’s just all gone.”

That's only a portion of the pandemic's economic impact.

The loss of training camp, two preseason games, at least two homes with no fans and the cancellation of the Badgers-Notre Dame game at Lambeau Field adds up to a another $100 million hit.

“A lost football game at the stadium, 80,000 people, how do we get 80,000 people to come and visit us for a weekend if it isn’t football?” says Toll.

The impact is being felt across the community.

“We hurt for our businesses here in the Green Bay area. I mean, they’re struggling to survive, and with no football, well, we don’t know for sure, maybe there’s games in November and December, we pray that there will be. I don’t see all the hotels and the restaurants making it through the winter,” says Toll.

A gloomy forecast on the heels of a record 2019 that saw visitors spend $718 million in this community.

“It was truly going to be a year for the record books, and it’s definitely a year for the record books, but for all the wrong reasons,” says Toll.

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