Posted July 24, 2013
Ashwaubenon - This week, the stadium district around Lambeau Field will play host to thousands of football fans ready for training camp and, new this year, the Cabela's store opens Thursday, attracting even more people to the area. Businesses in the stadium district in Green Bay and Ashwaubenon have spent months planning for this week. Already Lambeau Field and area businesses are seeing more people arrive in the Green Bay area. By Wednesday they expect thousands of people to be spending their time and money in the stadium district as the Packers' annual shareholders meeting takes place ahead of training camp. While businesses have dealt with large crowds for decades, providing a great experience during this busy time of year takes plenty of planning. "Our staff goes from oh say, 20 to 50. We add a whole lot of staff because the worst thing I can do is give somebody bad service," Stadium View owner Jerry Watson says. Stadium View's owner says he's doing everything he can to add to the fan experience, including opening a brand new patio bar. Bars and restaurants throughout the district are adding more staff and seating. Serving the thousands of fans who come to town for training camp is something the Packers expect. But this year the grand opening of Cabela's, which says its stores attract a million visitors a year, and training camp have the Packers preparing for some of the largest crowds they've ever seen. "All of these events are going on at one time, and that's really going to bring people to town. So we are expecting big crowds right from the get-go," Kate Hogan, Packers Director of Retail Operations, said. The Packers Pro Shop added employees, and Lambeau Field tours are already selling out. "When we open the doors in the morning there is anywhere from 50 to 100 people waiting in line just to get on one of those first couple of tours, which we sell out those first few, four or five tours out in about 15 minutes," Casey Ausloos of the Packers Hall of Fame said. Down the street, stores at Bay Park Square Mall are getting extra shipments of Packers team gear. The mall is touting the opening of outdoor retail giant Cabela's as a reason to shop... at the mall. "We know the average man shops there for about three hours at a time. So we invite all the women to come down here and shop till you drop. We have a lot of new stores and we look forward to having them here," the mall's Stephanie Blavat said. Most hotels in the stadium district are already sold out for the shareholders meeting and now they're trying to keep up. They'll still be busy even after the guests leave. "Saturday night we are sold out -- and we have 114 rooms. Sunday morning we have 111 checkouts. So the housekeeping staff and front desk staff have to work very hard to get those flipped, clean, and ready for occupancy by 3 o'clock," Hampton Inn Green Bay general manager Lawry Larson said. "We're running an extra person in laundry every day this week and we'll do so next week. We actually had to run an extra person last week to catch up. It is just summertime in Green Bay. There is a lot going on," Larson said. Planning for this week started months ago for many stadium district businesses. All the ones we talked with Tuesday said they love being busy, and despite the challenges of large crowds it's a time of year they look forward to. "We can start making money again, I love it. Believe me, I love being able to pay my bills, and that's what the Packers do for the entire business community of Green Bay," Watson said.