The Green Bay Packers Wednesday announced plans to host the Buffalo Bills during training camp, capping off the visit with 'Family Night, Presented by FOX 11.'
For the first time, 'Family Night' will feature another NFL team. This year's event, with the Bills on the other sideline, is Friday night, Aug. 5. The NFL's most popular scrimmage, an intra-squad affair over its first four editions, the night has routinely filled Lambeau Field. In 2004, the Packers sold every available seat in the stadium bowl.
This year's edition will take place on a Friday night to accommodate the Packers' earlier-than-normal preseason opener, vs. San Diego, Thursday, Aug. 11, as established by the NFL.
"Bringing in another team is beneficial for us for a number of reasons," said Executive Vice President and Head Coach Mike Sherman, who conceived the idea. "First, I wanted to change things up this year so it's different than previous training camps. Also, I feel going against different colored jerseys would make for an even more competitive camp. And with the youth we have at some positions, it provides us with another game-like experience, in addition to our four preseason contests.
"I think our fans will be excited to come to Hinkle Field on Thursday afternoon, or Friday morning, and watch two teams competing. Also, it only enhances the atmosphere and excitement of 'Family Night.' "
In addition to the scrimmage, Buffalo is expected to practice against the Packers twice on Clarke Hinkle Field: Thursday afternoon, Aug. 4, and Friday morning, Aug. 5. The Green Bay organization also will host Bills head coach Mike Mularkey and his team for dinner at Lambeau Field Thursday night.
"We're thrilled to be able to host Buffalo in Green Bay during training camp and to have them be a part of 'Family Night,' " said Packers Executive Vice President/COO John Jones. "We are proud of what 'Family Night' has become for Packers fans and families from around the state. We anticipate this year to be even more exciting with the addition of the Bills. It will be a great way for our younger fans to take in a game-like night in Lambeau Field."
"We are very excited here at FOX 11 to once again partner with the Green Bay Packers on presenting 'Packers Family Night, Presented by FOX 11,' " said Jay Zollar, WLUK FOX 11's Vice President and General Manager. "Each year it is a real joy to me to see the faces of the kids and non-season ticket holders who get to experience Lambeau Field and the Packers for the first time. This year is an even added bonus as the Packers will be engaging the Buffalo Bills in a controlled scrimmage game. This should make for another great night at Lambeau Field and on FOX 11."
According to team historian Lee Remmel, the Packers haven't hosted another team in training camp since 1991, when New England traveled to Green Bay a few days before the teams' preseason opener at Lambeau Field. One year earlier, then head coach Lindy Infante invited the Browns to Green Bay for practice before the clubs kicked off the 1990 preseason. The Browns contest marked LeRoy Butler's first NFL game.
While training camp in Green Bay hasn't seen "another color" in 14 years, the Packers are believed to have squared off against other NFL teams occasionally over the last 65 years. In 1939, the New York Giants began the trend of other NFL teams holding training camp in Wisconsin. Outside Green Bay, the Packers have also held joint training camp practices with the Saints and Chiefs.
Included in the evening's activities, per custom, will be the popular "Shirt Off Our Back," with approximately 20 jerseys - all of which will have been worn by Packers players in the just-completed scrimmage - to be given away in a random drawing, other entertainment and a spectacular fireworks show to conclude the night.
A popular summer attraction, the event drew 60,217 in 2004, 48,898 in 2001, 50,240 in 2000 and 46,420 in 1999. 'Family Night' did not take place for two years (2002-03) during Lambeau Field's redevelopment.
Tickets, priced again at $8 with families in mind, will go on sale Saturday, June 4, with details to be announced at a later date. Parking for the evening will be $5, with net proceeds going to the Green Bay Packers Foundation to be dispersed to area and state charities through its annual grant program.
The event will be televised in Green Bay on WLUK-TV Fox 11, as well as throughout the state of Wisconsin on associated stations. The telecast will be hosted by Drew Smith and other members of the Fox 11 sports and news staffs.