Green Bay Packers punt paper, go digital
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – A full-capacity crowd will again fill Lambeau Field to cheer on the green and gold.
Two things that won’t accompany them this NFL season – paper tickets and cash.
“The Packers have been working on the game day experience, enhancing it, over the course of several seasons,” Green Bay Packers Director of Public Affairs Aaron Popkey said. “We have seen our colleagues elsewhere in sports entertainment be able to utilize these tools to enhance the experience, and we are excited to see them in full utilization this year at Lambeau Field.”
Though nudged by the league to initiate the change, Popkey said it’s one the Pack has worked toward.
“The Packers have been preparing for this for a number of years,” he said. “The digital aspect of the game day experience is a continuation of how that experience has evolved over the years.”
After successfully utilizing mobile-only tickets during the playoffs in January, Popkey said continuing the process into this season, and beyond, will not only cut down on touchpoints for COVID-19 but also help ensure secure ticketing and prevent counterfeits.
“When you are using the app, you know that that ticket being forwarded to you is a legit ticket,” he said. “It cuts down, virtually eliminating, the counterfeiting because you are within the system. You know that that ticket is locked into the system and it can only get forwarded by the original holder of the ticket, and you just do the process that way. That will be a learning curve for people at our games, but it has taken place all over the world already.”
As far as game day ticket scalpers, Popkey said it will work itself out.
“That can still take place with the forwarding features,” he said. “But everyone involved would have to have the app. So it can still take place, it just takes place electronically.”
Popkey said the organization has created step-by-step instructions for fans on how to use and transfer digital tickets.
Those directions are available at packers.com/tickets/mobile-ticketing.
The organization will send commemorative paper tickets to season ticket holders after the season.
Popkey said the NFL is, along with sports and entertainment overall, a best-practice environment.
“Other people do things and it works out well, so you borrow from the best that’s going on out there,” he said. “And cashless concessions and point-of-sale is something that has been around for a while now. And something we were going to transition to.”
The team announced the transition to going entirely cashless nearly a year ago.
Popkey said the transition was originally planned to take place over the next few seasons, but the COVID-19 pandemic expedited the process.
“So it was something that was in the works, and as COVID became something we knew we were going to have to deal with, we said ‘OK, let’s do it,’” he said.
Popkey said the shift to cashless builds upon recent updates to the stadium’s point-of-sale systems and renovations to the concourses and concession stands.
“Security and safety protocols … for example, is a part of the experience that has been enhanced over the years,” he said. “We made that part of coming to a game easier with hand wands and then the detectors. Other aspects of the game day have been, for the last couple of years, we started introducing grab-and-go concessions. So your experience going to the concessions has been made more efficient.”
Popkey said it allows for increased efficiency and transaction speeds, shorter lines and less contact between guests and staff.
Fans who favor cash can load anywhere from $5 to $500 using one of the stadium’s several free cash-to-card conversion stations.
Cards can be used for purchases at Lambeau Field, as well as at outside retailers.
“People who have yet to transition themselves to not using cash anymore, can still come to the stadium with their cash, and we have units where they can deposit their cash into it and be issued a debit card with the money on it,” Popkey said. “So you are essentially charging up a card. There is no fee for it.”
Beer here vendors out
Popkey said one casualty of the cashless transition is the in-stadium vendors, or hawkers.
“Those will no longer exist going up and down the rows, simply because of the protocols for handling credit cards, you do not pass them up and down the aisles,” he said. “One, I don’t think people would want to do it, and by its nature, you are no longer touchless, you have a number of people touching your card and that sort of thing.”
Popkey said to make up for the hawkers’ absence, there will be more portable stands in the concourses.
“You won’t have the guys in the stands,” he said. “So, you will have to leave your seat. However, we feel it will be very efficient to be able to pop out into the concourse, visit the portable stands for your singular or couple of items and go back to your seat.”
Popkey said the shift to cashless is not only aimed at enhancing the fan experience, but also improving efficiency for concession volunteers.
All concession stands at Lambeau Field are staffed by local nonprofits in and around Green Bay.
“For all our team members that are working in those areas, it makes their opening and closing more efficient too,” Popkey said.
He said the team is still looking for additional groups to work stands for the upcoming season.
“Part of the word we want to get out is this shift to cashless makes for a much more efficient day,” Popkey said. “Getting set up and closing up, you would have to count the cash, and now you don’t have to do that. So it is a much more efficient process.”
Interested organizations can contact Delaware North – the operator of Lambeau Field concessions – at greenbaynpo@Delawarenorth.com or online at careers.delawarenorth.com/green-bay-npo.