CREATED Aug. 3, 2013
GREEN BAY, Wis.- Thousands of Packer fans swarming Green Bay for Family Night, what many consider the unofficial kickoff to football season. The big event also has a huge impact on area businesses. Hotel owners say they're booked full, as this marks the most important time of the year for them.
Fans have been waiting since last February and today tailgating starts, hotel rooms book up and tourism skyrockets. Businesses say this time is crucial because it's when they make their money.
Packer fans from all over the country have taken over Titletown, united for one reason, football.
Seeing the green and gold play at Lambeau isn't something everyone gets to do.
"You don't get to see the Packers live ever, tickets are expensive and it's packed all the time, so Family Night is a good opportunity to do that," said Jayson Bailey of Burlington, Wisconsin.
People go all out tailgating for the first time this season.
"It's awesome. We're grilling out and having a good time, excited for kickoff," said Shane Neuberger of Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
Fans aren't the only ones excited about football back in town though. At Aloft hotel in Green Bay, they're swamped.
"We're sold out tonight. I actually think pretty much the entire city is sold out tonight," said Aloft operations manager, Greg Rath.
Many people had to book early.
"We booked at least three months out," said Mark Melstrom, a tailgater at Lambeau.
This is the first of many weekends that all 105 rooms at Aloft hotel will book-up.
"Usually as soon as the Packers schedule is released within a few weeks pretty much every home game is sold out," said Rath.
Hotels depend heavily on fans and the team.
"This is our bread and butter, so the Packers are a big deal for us," said Rath.
Family Night tickets sold out fast. The event includes a LEGO sculpture, team scrimmage and ends with fireworks over Lambeau.