Mike McCarthy stomps into the Green Bay Packers locker room, throws his play sheet and red pen across the room and gets nose-to-nose with center Evan Dietrich-Smith and, though there won’t be any sound, every fan in Lambeau Field will be able to see the spit fly as he asks – in so many words – how Smith missed the block that led to an Aaron Rodgers sack and fumble and a Vikings touchdown.
In theory anyway … and if you’re not using the little boys and girls room or buying a beer and brat.
You see, in a move that is aimed at helping the Oakland Raiders more so than the Green Bay Packers, the NFL has mandated that teams install cameras into locker rooms so that fans can now have a peek into the never-seen-before happenings during halftimes of their favorite team.
Clearly mandated as a step to make the live game experiences as attractive as the creature comforts of the home viewing experience, the NFL is trying to clean up its pantload of fear over losing fans. Sixty-inch televisions that broadcast better and better images from NFL games is convincing fans to stay home with their friends, their chips, their beer and their favorite chair rather than jumping in the car, traveling for hours, fighting traffic and crowds and doing it all over again to get back home.
Fans are staying home to watch the games in warmth and comfort and the NFL doesn’t like that. In a case of the classic love/hate relationship, the NFL is fighting the trend against its lover – the television networks who help pay the light bills for the league through their billion dollar contracts. Without television, the NFL would be like T-ball baseball leagues – attended only by spouses and children who watch while laying on the grass with their picnic lunches.
So, any advantage the league can conjure is being implemented.
Though teams like the Packers have no reason – at least at this point in time – to worry about declining attendance, there are other teams like Oakland, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, and even Minnesota that are heading up the trend in the downward spiral in attendance around the league.
Will the halftime locker room video show pack ‘em in at these venues so they can watch players mill about, get retaped, and coaches talk strategy? I doubt it, but the league has to start doing something to attract fans.
Maybe other franchises should take a look at what the Packers are doing … not only will Lambeau Field’s renovation to its south end zone be completed by the start of this season, but the team is also in the process of renovating its Atrium area, moving around some of the anchor businesses (such as its Pro Shop), improving facilities, not only for the fan experience, but for the players as well. And what’s even better is that the Packers are doing it all at no cost to taxpayers. Through a league loan, the selling of fan stock and its own funds, the franchise is continuing to show that they’re ahead of the curve in attracting fans.
Coupled with the fact that the Packers have a waiting list for season tickets that lasts nearly into perpetuity, they are more an anomaly than the norm in the league. So, not only will Packers fans get the chance to enjoy their game day experience – which is annually rated as one of the best in the league – but starting this year they will be able to watch as Coach McCarthy does his job.
That’s not such a bad thing, I guess.
But I can probably guarantee that it won’t amount to a hill of beans in attracting more fans to Green Bay. They come to watch the action on the field, not the locker room.