Winning on and off the field

Alum to give behind-the-scenes look at Green Bay Packers’ business

Green Bay Packers logoHaving won more championships than any other NFL team, the Green Bay Packers know how to compete on the field. But the Packers are also competing off the field — every time the organization makes a business decision, says UWL alumnus Craig Benzel.

Benzel, vice president of Sales and Business Development for the Green Bay Packers, will share a behind-the-scenes look at Packers and NFL business and economics activities during an event as part of UWL’s celebration of Money Smart Week, April 22-29.

Benzel will be one of four speakers during the “Economics & Sports: Managing Money to Win” event from 4-8 p.m. Friday, April 28, in the Brian and Lori Hesprich Auditorium, 260 Graff Main Hall. The event is free and open to all. See other speakers and registration information below.

Craig Benzel, ’91, vice president of Sales and Business Development for the Green Bay Packers. He is returning to campus as part of Money Smart Week.

Benzel, who earned an MBA from UWL in 1991, says finance and economic know-how have played an important role in his position, which involves overseeing corporate sales, ticketing and more.

“There is a fair amount of financial or economic analysis we go through to make sure we are making the best possible decisions, whether evaluating projects for future growth or trying to optimize our normal business,” he says.

Benzel says his UWL education, as well as his undergraduate degree at Ripon College, gave him a broad base for making quality decisions for the Packers leadership team. “I was prepared to compete,” he says.

Benzel is looking forward to returning to UWL and making himself available to college students who are figuring out their future.

“I actually wish that these types of activities would have been more prevalent when I was in school,” he says of UWL’s Money Smart Week. “It allows students to be more well-rounded in terms of their financial or economic knowledge — whether personally or from a career standpoint.”

The event is made possible through a $400,000 Wisconsin Initiative for Economic Research grant from the Charles Koch Foundation. Adam Hoffer, UWL assistant professor of Economics, earned the grant that aims to increase people’s exposure to economics at UW-La Crosse and throughout the La Crosse community.

“I love economics — I could read and study it all day,” says Hoffer. “My goal with this grant is to engage a non-traditional audience in economics. I thought sports would be a great way to engage our students and the community.”

Register for Economics & Sports: Managing Money to Win

Advanced online registration is recommended. Speakers include: Benzel, vice president of Sales and Business Development for the Green Bay Packers; Russ Sobel, professor of Economics and Entrepreneurship at the Citadel; Adam Carroll, a financial literacy expert whose TED talks have more than one million views; and Billy Corben, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker. The event is co-sponsored by the La Crosse Money Smart Week and UWL’s It Make$ Cents! program.

UWL Money Smart Week

Money Smart Week is celebrated by hundreds of organizations across the country to help consumers better manage their personal finances. UWL started coordinating a Money Smart Week in 2013, attracting nearly 200 people. Last year’s event attracted nearly 2,000. Organizers continue to grow the event, and encourage more public participation.

Events during Money Smart Week draw attention to the importance of education on personal finance topics. This year’s La Crosse celebration provides a variety of opportunities community-wide to learn about finances. See a schedule of local events.

Local organizers say financial literacy is critical at time when the average American college student graduating in 2016 had more than $30,000 in student loan debt. Also, three quarters of U.S. workers report sometimes, usually or always living paycheck-to-paycheck, according to a study by the job-search firm CareerBuilder. People of all ages and income levels struggle with financial topics, yet they don’t need to because resources are available, says Amanda Gasper, UWL’s financial literacy coordinator.

Adam Hoffer, UWL assistant professor of Economics, says talking about finance is often considered taboo — along the lines of religion or politics. “There is not a great reason for that,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be hard, complicated or embarrassing. The things we highlight this week are simple things. When you are more educated, it becomes easier and you can end up with better finances because of that.”

Money Smart Week was created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 2002.

About Craig Benzel

Craig Benzel oversees corporate sales, premium seating, ticketing, food and beverage, events, the Hall of Fame and guest services for the Green Bay Packers. Prior to his current position, Benzel was director of marketing and corporate sales, helping the Packers organization achieve record local revenues as it expanded its partnerships and added innovative new inventory in premium seating, among other accomplishments. Prior to joining the Packers in 1998, Benzel served as vice president of marketing for the Milwaukee Wave for six years (1993-98), managing all aspects of revenue generation, including corporate sponsorships, tickets, promotions, and TV and radio programming. Before his tenure with the Wave, Benzel worked in sports marketing for UW-La Crosse from 1991 to 1993.