GREEN BAY — Mark Murphy doesn’t exactly know what the economic impact will be from the new Titletown district.
The Green Bay Packers president and CEO has seen plenty of projections and studies, but as all three cornerstones of Phase I of the mixed-use area across from Lambeau Field will all come on line by month’s end — the Hinterland brewery and restaurant, the Lodge Kohler hotel and the Bellin Health sports medicine clinic — even Murphy himself is left to guess on just how successful it’ll be.
“It’ll be interesting over the next few years to see the impact of Titletown (on local revenue),” Murphy said Wednesday during a meeting with reporters to discuss the team’s annual financial report, set to be presented to the team’s shareholders at Lambeau Field on July 24.
“Obviously we’re very excited about it; (it’s) something we’ve been working on for a long time. We really see it as building on the success of the renovation of Lambeau.”
According to figures released by the team, the Packers took in $197.4 million in local revenue last fiscal year, an increase of $11.3 million from the previous year. Because all 32 teams have the same amount of national revenue because of the NFL’s revenue-sharing program, local revenue is where teams can move up or down the pecking order. The Packers currently rank in the second quartile of the league, according to vice president of finance and administration Paul Baniel.
But that ranking could rise significantly in the coming years if Titletown is as successful as the team hopes it will be. And if a doomsday scenario ever materializes — where revenue sharing changes, income from TV contracts dips appreciably or a work stoppage leads to the cancellation of games — Titletown revenues could serve as a secondary safety net beyond the Packers preservation fund, which Murphy said currently stands at about $350 million.
Titletown will also include a park and full-length football field that will open prior to the team’s Sept. 10 regular-season opener against Seattle, and a sledding/tubing hill and ice skating rink which will open in November.
Phase II of the project, which includes residential townhouses and a combination of entertainment, dining and retail tenants, is expected to be announced in the coming months.
Murphy called Titletown “an investment in the community,” saying that one key to the Packers’ success is to “make sure we have a strong local economy. Hopefully some of the investments we’ve made in Titletown will make sure the economy here remains strong and vibrant.”
Most of the Packers’ local revenue comes from ticket sales, but also tours of the Packers Hall of Fame and Lambeau Field, along with robust sales at the Packers Pro Shop, both at the brick-and-mortar retail store inside the stadium and online. Non-game events, such as the University of Wisconsin-LSU football game last fall and the Billy Joel concert held last month, also add to the local revenue.
While work continues on Titletown, Murphy said the team is also looking at other potential investments. As Murphy pointed out, because the team is community-owned, “we aren’t putting (profits) in an owner’s pocket, we can’t give it back to our shareholders,” so he and his business team continues to seek other opportunities to grow revenue that will ultimately help the football side of the operation continue to field competitive teams.
“We’re in a very fortunate position where we can invest,” Murphy said. “I don’t think we’re done. I think you have to continue to invest. And it’s not just the stadium. Our team, to have resources to invest in whether it be football facilities (or) contracts or salaries for contracts for scouts and coaches (or) the fan experience. ... You have to make sure you have resources there.”