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Could Lambeau Field, Titletown District package lure NFL Draft?

Packers have applied to host draft in 2019, '20 and '21


GREEN BAY – With sights set on hosting the NFL Draft, Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy believes the organization may have the right package to make Green Bay a possible destination for the event.

In making the decision to move forward with the development of the Titletown District on Lambeau Field's west side, the Packers saw the venture as an investment in the Green Bay community.

As the project has moved from concept to reality, Murphy and the organization began looking into the prospects of potentially hosting the now mobile NFL Draft, which was held in Philadelphia this past year.

The Packers previously have applied to host the NFL Draft in 2019, 2020 and 2021. With a decision expected soon on the location of the 2018 draft, it's likely the final plans for the 2019 location would come a year from now.

While Murphy admits the NFL's smallest market is competing with every NFL city for the honors, the Packers are selling the league on their rich history and booming stadium district as a unique change-of-pace for the event.

"I think a lot of it depends on what the league wants to accomplish with the draft," Murphy said on Monday. "I think in addition to Titletown and Lambeau Field itself … the changes we've made here with the Hall of Fame and the restaurant (could help).

"It's such a destination for football fans across the world that I think having the draft here – I don't want to put the odds on it – but I think (we can) make a strong case to the league."

Murphy has suggested in the past that the 2019 NFL Draft could be an interesting option considering it would mark the franchise's 100-year anniversary and the Titletown District would be fully operational by then.

The area's three landmarks – Hinterland Brewery, Lodge Kohler, and Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine & Orthopedics – will all be up and running following Tuesday's ribbon-cutting at Bellin's state-of-the art facility.

Phase 2 of the development began earlier this year with the construction of a sledding hill and ice-skating rink, which will be followed by the construction of a full-length artificial grass field and play areas meant to replicate combine drills.

"To me, there would be some real advantages to the league having a draft here with our history and tradition," Murphy said. "Some of the things we've been able to do in the smallest market reflects really well of the league in my mind."

The driving force behind the Titletown District was to invest in the community and find more ways to ensure the Packers will remain a fixture in Green Bay for the decades to come.

The franchise's portfolio is strong as it's ever been, but Murphy has seen firsthand how the tides can change depending on revenue, the collective-bargaining agreement, and the number of new stadiums popping up throughout the NFL.

"As we see it now, it really doesn't appear to be any concern or risk of us leaving," Murphy said. "I think we really have to be forward-thinking (for) when the time comes that maybe we have a CBA where there's no salary cap, or revenue sharing is changed. The league, it changes pretty rapidly.

"I think the investment in Titletown will be a very good one long-term for the organization."

The primary goal of the Titletown District has been to attract visitors to Green Bay who might not otherwise travel to the area and give locals more options they haven't had before.

It's all part of the big picture the Packers have painted over the past few years. While the team continues to win on the field, the organization continues to look for ways to expand off of it.

"As I view Titletown, I think it's probably the biggest investment we'll make in this community," Murphy said. "As a community-owned team, we really have two main goals – No. 1 is to win Super Bowls, and every team has that same goal – but with our ownership structure, for us the other top priority is making sure we stay in Green Bay. "I think investing in the community with the way we are in Titletown really helps ensure this team will stay here. Over the long run, Green Bay will have a strong enough economic base that it'll continue to support an NFL team."

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