Hospitality and tourism industries view NFL schedule as glimmer of hope

Published: May. 7, 2020 at 10:18 PM CDT
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The hospitality industry in Wisconsin has taken a significant hit during the coronavirus pandemic, but the release of the NFL schedule has at least one hotel manager cautiously optimistic.

“It was so active and vibrant and I'm just really hoping we can have that again,” said Kenny Didier, manager of Hotel Northland, as he remembers last football season.

On Thursday it was quiet in and around the hotel, as many aspects of the historic landmark remain closed and protective measures in place to keep the few guests staying there safe.

“We've seen a decrease in occupancy due to the travel restrictions and things like that, but we're doing very well as compared to the market,” said Didier.

A trend he hopes will continue into fall now that fans know when the Packers will be playing at Lambeau Field.

Each home game generates about $15 million for the local economy, which is why the NFL schedule is being seen as a glimmer of hope for tourism.

“Everything cancels one after the other, after the other. It's really exciting the NFL is going to do everything they can to try and play a full schedule,” said Brad Toll, President and CEO of the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Home games will be a big boost for hotels, especially when 85 percent of rooms are vacant.

“Right now we're probably at, depending on the day, between 15 and 20 percent occupancy, that number should be 55-60 percent during this time of year,” said Toll.

If and when fans come pouring into town, the hospitality industry will be ready to safely serve them.

“We want to be very smart about that and we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to ensure that we're compliant,” said Didier.

In the last seven weeks, the tourism industry in Wisconsin has lost more than $1 billion in travel spending according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

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