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Green Bay: More than brats, beer and Packers

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt upon arriving in Green Bay on Jan. 26. (AP Photo)

Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt is hoping the Packers’ Super Bowl appearance can be a step toward changing people’s perception about his city.

“I think when people hear Green Bay, they think good thoughts,” Schmitt said. “(But) I do think they think of us as Chris Farley – brats, beer and Packers. There’s so much more to Green Bay than that.”

Well, actually, people picture Farley in Bears gear on Saturday Night Live. But you get the idea.

The Super Bowl has given Schmitt, who is up for re-election, plenty of time to make his pitch. Schmitt recently met with President Barack Obama during his post-State of the Union address trip to Wisconsin, and traveled to Dallas to watch the Packers.

As he talks to people, Schmitt said he seizes the opportunity to sell the virtues of Green Bay.

“To tell people about the waterfront, and that we’ve got year-round recreation and a beautiful theater in town, those are the things I try to weave into my conversations when out-of-towners try to get a feel for Green Bay,” Schmitt said. “I think they know we’re church-going football fans – that’s a true statement. But, again, the educational and economic opportunities, I think (the Super Bowl) gives us a chance to showcase that.”

As the Super Bowl bounces around to cold-weather cities, could the game ever be played in Green Bay? Schmitt acknowledges the NFL would have to make too many concessions for that to happen.

“In terms of infrastructure, it’s just not there,” Schmitt said. “If they ever change their regulations, and we come close, I’ll be the first one there, requesting they be there,” Schmitt said. “But right now, we would need Milwaukee, and Milwaukee’s too far out.

“But,” he added, “Keep talking about it.”

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