GREEN BAY, Wis. -- One of the most anticipated football events of the Wisconsin summer, the Green Bay Packers' annual Family Night, will take place on Aug. 2 but with a significant format change.
For the 14th version of Family Night, the team will hold a regular practice instead of a controlled scrimmage as it has in the past.
The practice will feature some live tackling during 11-on-11 periods, but it's a significant – if not unexpected – change by coach Mike McCarthy.
Last year, a Family Night record crowd of 63,047 watched as the Packers lost starting tackle Bryan Bulaga for the season after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee early in the scrimmage.
But the format change may have as much to do with the reduced number of training camp practices as mandated by the collective bargaining agreement as it does with injury prevention.
This week, while discussing an unrelated matter with reporters, McCarthy noted how many fewer training camp practices teams hold now.
"You get to training camp, I think we're at 21, 22 practices [now] down from 35, 36 from three years ago," McCarthy said. "The team reps, how you utilize them is, you look into that a lot more."
In explaining the format change for Family Night, the Packers, in a statement, said: "As the team has continually assessed its preparation methods in recent years, it was determined a full practice is necessary to accomplish its preparation goals for the regular season. The full practice will include 11-on-11 sessions that will feature live contact."
Ticket prices for Family Night remain the same as last year, $10, and will go on sale June 23 via Ticketmaster or the Packers' box office.
Training camp practices, held across Oneida Street on Ray Nitschke Field, are free and open to the public, so essentially fans are paying for the Lambeau Field experience plus a post-practice fireworks show.
The full training camp schedule has not yet been released, but Family Night comes one week after camp opens on July 26.