GREEN BAY – After years of hard work and careful planning, the NFL Draft is bound for Green Bay.
Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, vice president of marketing and fan engagement Gabrielle Dow and president and CEO of Discover Green Bay Brad Toll spoke Wednesday morning about the league selecting Green Bay to host the 2025 NFL Draft.
Here are five things we learned:
1. The Packers and city of Green Bay were relentless in their pursuit of the event.
Once the NFL chose to move the draft to different markets on an annual basis, the Packers began building their pitch to bring the event to Green Bay.
The development of Titletown on the west side of Lambeau Field and the construction of the Resch Expo on the east were obvious catalysts in the city's bid, but every proposal the Packers put together centered on one specific aspect of the city – its deep roots to professional football.
"The history and tradition mean so much, not only to this community but also to the league," Murphy said. "There are many great things about Green Bay. One of the things we're really going to focus on and distinguishes us from all the other cities is our history and tradition, and the connection between the city, the fans, and our team."
The Packers submitted their first proposal in 2016 before mounting a larger push in 2019 after partnering with Discover Green Bay. A local organizing committee was formed, and with continued development, the Packers felt well-positioned to host the 2022 NFL Draft.
However, that draft went to Las Vegas due to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the draft scheduled there in 2020. Green Bay was then among the three finalists for 2024 before it was awarded to Detroit. The Packers were initially told the 2025 draft was "off the table," before the league circled back in January to tell the organization it was now a possibility. The location was finalized earlier this week at the NFL spring meetings in Minneapolis.
"From what the NFL has told us, we are the first NFL team to drive the draft bid process with the league," Dow said. "Due to the small nature of our community and our city, Mark knew that we could help Brad and our local community and state get this here. … We are very excited and can't wait to show the world what the state of Wisconsin and city of Green Bay have to offer the 2025 NFL Draft."
2. The partnership between city and team helped make the draft a reality.
This week's announcement was a decade in the making for Toll and his 14-person staff at Discover Green Bay.
After the NFL uprooted the draft from its previous home at Radio City Music Hall in 2014, Toll immediately began searching information on the venue. Upon seeing Radio City's 6,000-seat layout and meeting space, Toll called Packers director of public affairs Aaron Popkey and told him the event would fit in the Resch Center.
As luck would have it, the Packers were conducting similar research. Discover Green Bay works to bring events to the area on almost daily basis, but the Packers' involvement helped seal the deal on the city's bid to host the draft.
"Without the Packers' commitment to this and the tremendous staff they have here at Lambeau Field, working for the team, it just would not have been something that would've become a reality here," Toll said. "This is by far the largest event that we've ever been a part of and really it's probably it'll be the largest event that'll ever come to Green Bay in our history."
Murphy credited Dow, the Packers' senior leadership team and executive committee for their efforts in securing the draft. He also honored late treasurer Mark McMullen, who helped get Green Bay's bid off the ground prior to his passing in February.
"This is the biggest NFL event we could have here," Murphy said. "We knew it could be a challenge, but through hard work and an awful lot of people in the organization, it's going to become a reality."
Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, Packers VP of Marketing and Fan Engagement Gabrielle Dow and Discover Green Bay President and CEO Brad Toll spoke about the 2025 NFL Draft coming to Green Bay during a Wednesday morning press conference at Lambeau Field.
3. The NFL Draft will have a huge economic impact on the state of Wisconsin.
The Packers and Discover Green Bay are expecting around 250,000 attendees for the draft, which is estimated to have a $94 million impact on the state and $20 million locally in Green Bay.
A $7.5 million budget has been established to develop the draft's infrastructure and promotion. The Packers have committed at least $1 million, while seeking to raise an additional $4.5 million through donors. The Lambeau Field Stadium District already has pledged a contribution.
"The impact of this, obviously there's benefits immediately, but as we look at it, this is going to benefit the Packers, Green Bay and Wisconsin for years to come," Murphy said. "You can't put a dollar figure on what the publicity and (having) people, five, 10 years from now, come visit Green Bay because, 'Geez, I saw when they hosted the draft and I saw all the different things they have in the community. It'll be a great place to not only visit but to live.'
"We're a community owned team, so for us, this is really our sweet spot. This is gonna be a tremendous benefit for the community."
Green Bay representatives David Steffen and Robert Cowles also have submitted a $2 million request for the project from the state of Wisconsin. The organization has spoken with numerous leaders in Madison who are excited for the state to have this opportunity, according to Popkey.
"Being able to bring this to our community and share it with the residents who are here and the residents of Wisconsin, what a cool thing to be a part of," Toll said. "We talk about the economic impact, and certainly that's a huge part of it, but when it's here, it's gonna rock the community and people are gonna absolutely love it, and I think there'll be some tears."
4. The work, and meetings, start now.
The NFL will be in town next month for its first site visit to begin mapping out the details of the event, including where the league plans to construct its 100-yard draft stage.
Meanwhile, the Packers have developed their own plans for a "Lambeau Field Campus," that'll span across Lambeau Field, Titletown, Resch Expo and Resch Center. It'll house the main media stage, NFL Experience, green room, red carpet, media center, and fan areas. The new 12,500-square-foot visitors center near Interstate 41 and Lombardi Avenue is also expected to be completed by then.
"Over the next two years, our local organizing community will work to promote and showcase this great state of Wisconsin," Dow said. "Whether you visit Wisconsin because of the draft or you're checking your bucket list off and you're visiting Lambeau Field … we'll together ensure all are welcome to our great state and your time with us during the 2025 draft will be a lifetime memory."
The finer details of the event will be determined over the next 23 months, but the Packers and Discover Green Bay have invested a lot of time and resources into making sure the area and region have ample hotel space.
The Packers and league have blocked the required number of hotels for the three weekend dates the NFL provided, with Green Bay also exploring other lodging options. The organization has had discussions with Amtrak to transport fans from Milwaukee to Green Bay and looked into bringing in cruise ships. Many local families also rent out their homes through Airbnb and other short-term rental accommodations.
Beyond simply rooms, the Packers have spoken with Uber and Lyft about expanding transportation in the area over the next two years.
5. Yes, the Packers are aware it could snow…and have planned for it.
Murphy said he recently spoke with NFL executive vice president, club business, international and legal events Peter O'Reilly about the possibility of snow, to which O'Reilly joked, "That would be great."
In all seriousness, Dow said snow removal has been factored into the Packers' planned budget. The Packers also spent time researching the two drafts in Chicago in 2015-16. Fortunately, snow wasn't an issue for either draft.
"That's a question we were asked and it's like, 'Who knows how to remove snow better than Green Bay, Wis.?" Toll said. "Even with the airport, they're accustomed to that. They work with it all (winter). We have snow during Packers games and the private jets fly in and out nonstop. We're probably better equipped than anywhere else in the country to do with inclement weather."
What they're saying about the NFL Draft…
"I think that's awesome. What better place, in my opinion. And I think that's a big-time credit to Mark Murphy and the staff upstairs in terms of being able to get that done."
-Head Coach Matt LaFleur
"I'm excited for the rest of the world to come up to Green Bay and see what the people here are all about. It's a special place and they're going to get to see a little bit of our insight and a little bit of our home. It's definitely exciting and something people of Green Bay I feel like should have had with the how historic the Packers are. It's never too late. 2025, we're here."
-Running back Aaron Jones
"You saw how they was in London? I think it's gonna be cracking here. It's gonna be a little different. It's exciting. I think it's gonna be good for the community because I heard when they bring stuff in, they built a lot more stuff."
-Cornerback Keisean Nixon