Draft Party Fills Atrium With Energy

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While the Packers football minds were working in the team's draft room, more than 2,000 fans of the Green and Gold were heartily enjoying themselves at the fourth annual Packers Draft Party, soaking in another day of Packers culture at the Lambeau Field Atrium.

With a number of activities for all attendees, the party was able to satisfy the football thirst of all comers. From the basics of big screen TVs and WTMJ Radio on-site, to the Packers rummage sale and viewing of Lambeau Field, there was something for the serious draft fans as well as the casual fan seeking to celebrate a team event with fellow Packers followers.

Many fans enjoyed hearing directly from GM Ted Thompson, Head Coach Mike McCarthy, Chairman Bob Harlan and President John Jones, as well as several players, including surprise visits from former great LeRoy Butler and wide receiver Greg Jennings.

For Clayton Matteson, 26, of Prairie City, Ill., the day has become a regular family affair.

"I'm a big Packers fan and I'm here with my dad and my brother," Matteson said. "It's our second year, so it's an annual thing now. A lot of people don't get to come for a game, so this is a great idea. To come and hang out at Lambeau Field for a day is a great opportunity.

"The party is another way to draw more people into the tradition that is the Packers. It's a neat experience. It's not too often you get to see the GM talk about the pick. It's pretty exciting."

One of the new aspects of the party was the use of the team's spacious club level on the fourth floor, allowing for more people to follow the draft from a position with a table. For serious draft followers, that's a must.

"It's great," observed Matteson. "It seemed a little crowded last year downstairs, so this is a great addition to the party. There's much more room now, better access. The team does a great job with the setup, with the TVs and the player autographs."

Other fans attended the Draft Party for the first time and enjoyed the atmosphere of the event, as well as the opportunity to explore the Atrium's many offerings.

"We've watched it on TV for many years and I thought it would be fun to be around other Packers fans and bring some family with," said Ed Rabuck, 27, of Madison. "It was a lot of fun. I'm glad we came.

"We got a lot of autographs, saw the Hall of Fame and had lunch here. It was a great time."

Another first-time attendee, Ian Mlsna, 11, of Madison, hopes this wasn't his last visit to the Draft Party. He enjoyed getting to see the players and get some autographs.

"I loved it," he said. "It was my first experience and I really want to come again. The players and everything were great."

Many fans also took advantage of the wireless internet available, bringing their laptops to follow various web sites tracking the draft. Packers President/COO John Jones noted he felt the wireless internet and the expanded seating options were big hits with fans.

"The Draft Party gets better every year," Jones said. "We see many families with the kids enjoying themselves, enjoying the different activities.

"It was a great day at the Lambeau Field Atrium for Packers fans. The building had such great energy and there's lots of excitement for the 2007 season."

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