Businesses react to 2025 NFL Draft announcement: What does it mean for Green Bay

Businesses feel a sense of excitement for the crowds and now need to plan for the work that needs to be done
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 12:03 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - For the second time during the month of May, the city of Green Bay is in the national spotlight, as Green Bay was named as the host city for the 2025 NFL Draft.

“It’s been two weeks like none other,” Vice President of Talent and Education for Greater Green Bay Chamber Eric Vanden Heuvel said. “I mean to receive that national recognition and really to have the eyes on us the way that they are I think it’s something we know what a great place to live and to see other people starting to recognize that is exciting and we’ve got to live up to that reputation.”

The national recognition came on May 16, when U.S. News & World Report named Green Bay the best place to live in 2023.

Vanden Heuvel said for years the city and the Packers organization were hoping this announcement would come, and for it to finally happen, it’s a sense of relief and excitement; however, over the next two years, a lot of work needs to get done.

“We’ll start collaborating and figuring out what those deadlines and timelines will look like,” Vanden Heuvel said. “What the commitments look like. Certainly from a business community standpoint, everyone’s going to need to start preparing and making sure that they are staffed and making sure that our community puts our best foot forward.”

Vanden Heuvel estimates over 250,000 people will attend, a $20 million economic impact on the community, and an over $100 million economic impact state-wide. He said having the spotlight on us comes with responsibility, but should be really exciting.

“I’m so excited to hear that they are going to be holding the draft here,” Stadium View Bar Manager Jenni Sanftlben said. “That is going to bring us so much business. Tons of people coming into town. I always love watching the draft and seeing the fans from different areas coming in, so we’re really excited to get everyone here so we can watch the draft together.”

Sanftlben said she and her staff are already in talks about what they’re going to be doing, such as bringing in extra bartenders and bouncers and having live bands, and putting jumbotrons outside on their outdoor patio for people to watch the draft.

She said Stadium View is known for its huge party-like atmosphere during Packers season, so they will be holding something similar when the draft comes to town.

“We have just remodeled our event hall, too, and we love to utilize that during game days,” Sanftlben said. “We have huge projectors on to watch the games and everything so we’re just going to amp up.”

One concern people had with the NFL Draft coming to Green Bay was the lack of hotels there are in the area. The hotel employees we spoke to said they were receiving calls from people looking to book rooms. Vanden Heuvel thinks we learned a lesson when Sheboygan hosted the Ryder Cup in 2021 as it had a huge regional impact.

“People were staying in Green Bay for an event that was an hour down the road, so very much the same,” Vanden Heuvel said. “People are going to be staying all over the state in order to access this event. I think we are seeing a lot of economic growth in hotels that are going up right now so Green Bay will look a lot different in two years than it does right now and certainly looking at our surrounding communities in our region to play a big part in this.”

Green Bay officially submitted its bids for the 2025 and 2027 NFL Drafts at the end of March, following approval of the 2025 and 2027 Community Leader Agreements from the Green Bay Finance Committee on March 14 and Green Bay City Council on March 21.

During its meeting on March 27, the Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District filed and passed a “motion to pledge 50 percent of present and future district revenues from bowl events held in 2022 to 2027 with a cap of $1.2 million until such time as the 2027 draft is awarded and the monies for each event would not be paid until they are received. They will be reimbursed to Experience Green Bay Foundation for the use for the NFL Draft.”

The importance of doing that was to strengthen the Packers’ offer to increase the likelihood of hosting the draft.

Vanden Heuvel said essentially, the NFL Draft is a week-long international commercial for the community. He said everyone is going to have eyes on us as it’s the biggest off-season event for the most popular sport in the country.

When asked about why the NFL accepted the application, Vanden Heuvel believes Green Bay put together an application that was competitive and showed that everyone in the community would pull together.

“The number of people who said we will play a part in this and we will make sure that it’s successful and that sense of collaboration and hard work is a part of the fabrication of our community and I think that showed in the application and it’s going to be a special event,” Vanden Heuvel said. “Certainly, the smallest NFL market to be able to host the event is quite an accomplishment.”