Lambeau Field again was a bustling center of activity this summer as tens of thousands of fans descended upon Green Bay to take in all that Packers training camp has to offer.
Making this summer an even busier occasion was the Lambeau Field Atrium operating with all its entities open and accepting visitors. While the Atrium and its eateries were open for training camp in 2003, the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, Curly's Pub and other areas were not on line until the after the regular season was underway.
That changed during this summer's training camp, as fans had the opportunity to completely fill their day with Packers football.
"The main thing I noticed during two-a-days in the past is that everybody would have to fill their time between practices away from Lambeau Field," said Packers President and CEO Bob Harlan. "This year they came into the Atrium and got a bite to eat in Curly's Pub or one of the other restaurants, went through the Hall of Fame or took a stadium tour. It fulfilled everything we thought it would. Fans could spend time here and have a full day of Packers football."
An annual draw for Green Bay area hotels, restaurants and other merchants, the 2004 training camp did not disappoint.
"The Green Bay area welcomed Packers Training Camp visitors from coast to coast, Canada, and even Belfast, Ireland," said Kari Sliva, president and CEO of the Packer Country Regional Tourism Office.
With 2,500-3,000 fans attending each session, the RTO estimates that 100,000 flock to Training Camp annually and give the local economy a $35 million boost.
"We extended our hours of operation this year, using a mobile welcome center staffed by our MVP Volunteers next to Clarke Hinkle Field," Sliva said. "They helped thousands of fans plan their activities with a goal of extending their stay in the area."
At the Lambeau Field Atrium, the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, Curly's Pub, the Hall of Fame Grill and Frozen in Time Ice Cream all experienced healthy attendance this summer. The Packers Pro Shop witnessed its best summer ever, too, as the traffic in the Atrium drew fans into the store to check out new Packers wear, including some items with a training camp-specific logo that debuted this summer.
"We saw new packers traditions taking shape with this summer's training camp," said Packers Executive Vice President and COO John Jones. "Having all Atrium attractions open and available for the first time brought a new level of excitement to the many families and individuals who made Lambeau Field atrium the place to be. From a great start with our first 'Summer Traditions' free community event on camp's opening weekend, to over 60,000 fans at 'Family Night,' to kids having fun at 'The Packers Experience,' we certainly saw fans soaking up the Packers' culture and mystique in ways never before possible."
The Packers Experience, this summer free to fans and in its new location in the Lambeau Field concourse, welcomed 36,563 children during its five-week run. Kids of all ages flocked to the area before and after training camp practices to take their turn at throwing and kicking the football as well as playing other football-based games.
The Hall of Fame, which has been busy since the day it opened in its new location at the Lambeau Field Atrium, welcomed 28,682 visitors from July 30 to Sept. 1. Many came from far corners of the United States as well as from around the world. The Hall's busiest day during camp was Aug. 7, the day of 'Packers Family Night, Presented by Fox 11,' when it welcomed roughly 1,700 visitors.
A stadium tour in the redeveloped Lambeau Field was a hot ticket as well during training camp, with nearly 24,000 patrons taking advantage of the opportunity to walk through the players' tunnel and onto Lambeau Field. To accommodate the strong demand, tours with 20-30 patrons were run every 15 minutes (32 tours a day).
The Packers special events department remained busy, too, with 151 events hosted and nearly 12,000 people welcomed. Motorcoach tours were an especially popular group during camp, as the department arranged 51 such visits, helping form itineraries that included practice, a Hall of Fame visit and a stadium tour.