GREEN BAY – Loyal Green Bay Packers fans who plan their vacations around springtime and summertime visits to Lambeau Field and offseason events involving their favorite team can start working on their schedules.
The Packers set their offseason calendar Tuesday, announcing the annual shareholders meeting will be July 24 and the first practice of training camp will be two days later, on July 26. The club also set a handful of offseason practice dates that will give fans a chance to see their heroes before training camp, weather permitting.
Last year’s offseason was wiped out by labor unrest between the owners and the players, canceling the post-draft rookie orientation camp, organized team activity practices and the mandatory June minicamp. Those all return with labor peace in place.
Here’s a look at the team’s offseason calendar, chronologically:
> Rookie orientation camp: With the 2012 NFL Draft set to kick off Thursday, the Packers’ draft picks, undrafted free-agent signees and a handful of tryout players will get to work starting on Friday, May 11 for the team’s annual three-day rookie orientation camp. The rookies will have on-field work that day, but it will be held inside the Don Hutson Center and thus closed to the public.
> Organized Team Activities: The new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association reduced the number of OTA practices to 10 for this offseason, and three of those will be open to the public: Tuesday, May 22, Wednesday, May 30 and Tuesday, June 5.
Coach Mike McCarthy has scheduled 11:30 a.m. practices on each of those days, with the workouts to be held at Ray Nitschke Field, weather permitting. That means those three practices will be open to the public if the springtime Wisconsin weather cooperates.
> Mandatory mini-camp: McCarthy’s full-squad, mandatory practices will begin Tuesday, June 12 and run through Thursday, June 14, again at Ray Nitschke Field and again open to the public weather permitting. The practice times have not yet been set.
> Annual shareholders meeting: With more than 250,000 new shareholders following the team’s stock sale earlier this year, the annual event will be held Tuesday, July 24 at 9:30 a.m. at Lambeau Field – but with some new attendance rules in place.
The meeting, which the club emphasized will “take place rain or shine,” will only be open to shareholders themselves, as shareholders will not be allowed to bring guests as they have in the past.
According to Aaron Popkey, the team’s director of public affairs, tickets will be issued only to shareholders of record this year, with no opportunity for shareholders to bring guests. In recent years up to four guests could attend with a shareholder.
But with the influx of new shareholders, the team is expecting a possible capacity crowd for the event. According to the Packers, capacity at the stadium for the meeting is about 50,000. In addition, the team is asking shareholders to only request a ticket to the meeting if they are making definite plans to come.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming many of our new shareholders to Lambeau Field for their first Annual Meeting this summer,” Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement. “The expansion of the stadium will provide a dramatic backdrop for the meeting. I’m excited for the shareholders to see the progress of the work and the importance of their contributions.”
“We want to make sure we have the ability to welcome the shareholders who plan to come, and this will help us accommodate the increased attendance. These next couple years will see us transition to our much larger ownership group. After we see our attendance patterns for a year or two, we’ll be able to reevaluate the guest aspect for future meetings.”
> Training camp: Players will report on Wednesday, July 25, with the first practice to be held on Thursday, July 26. The full practice schedule will be released later.
One word of caution: With the Packers set to open preseason play on Thursday, Aug. 9 at San Diego, the timing of the team’s annual Family Night Scrimmage, usually held the first Saturday after training camp opens, has not been announced.
> Other important dates: The Packers also released a handful of dates for various charity events and other team functions.
The previously announced Packers Tailgate Tour will be May 15-19; the annual Donald Driver Charity Softball Game at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute is set for June 3; the annual Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer motorcycle ride is June 9; the Children’s Hospital Golf Tournament with Mike and Jessica McCarthy at Nakoma Golf Club in Madison is June 11; and the annual Packers Hall of Fame Induction Banquet at the Lambeau Field Atrium is July 21.
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