Green Bay 101: Who Owns the Packers?
Other than President of the United States, there’s probably no more prestigious position in our country than an owner of a professional sports team. Sure, there are jobs that may offer a higher salary or more exposure, but owning a team is the top of the heap.
For 31 other NFL franchises, the owners must be a group of 24 or fewer people and cannot be a religious group, government or non-profit organization. And then there’s the Green Bay Packers, the only community-owned franchise in American professional sports.
Green Bay, Wisconsin has a population of 104,057 as of the 2010 census, easily making it the smallest home city of an NFL team. If you look at a map of the United States, most won’t even show Green Bay as it’s the third-largest city in the state behind Milwaukee and Madison.
The Packers ownership group is a little larger than 24. As of 2014, there are 360,760 stockholders who own a share in the team. Each individual share equals approximately .00002%, and no one individual can own more than 4% of the outstanding shares.
Why are the Packers community-owned?
It’s not outrageous to say that without community support, the Packers would have folded. The Packers have turned to stock sales five times to raise money.
The first was in 1923; facing bankruptcy the Packers turned to local merchants to help raise money. The team brought in about $5,585 by selling 1,000 shares at $5 apiece (about $70 in today’s money). If you purchased five shares of stock, you received a box seat for every home game.
A second sale in 1935 helped keep the team afloat after a local fan sued the Packers for $5,000 after falling out of the stands at City Stadium. This sale sold shares at $25 apiece (about $450 in today’s money) and was pitched as more of a fund drive.
The third sale was in 1950. The team was facing $90,000 in losses in late 1949, and scheduled a Thanksgiving Day intrasquad game to raise enough funds to finish the season. The game and stock sale brought in around $100,000 and club president Emil Fischer praised fans at a victory party, saying, “We’ve done it again. Once again Green Bay has proven to the nation what civic pride means.
Since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, the team has held a stock sale shortly after its two Super Bowl victories. The most recent stock sale happened in 2011 and 2012, when 269,000 shares were sold at $250 apiece to raise funds towards a $143 million addition in the south end zone of Lambeau Field.
What benefits do you get if you’re an owner of the Packers?
Shareholders in the Green Bay Packers are unlike traditional shareholders of a company. Shares do not pay dividends, cannot increase in value and does not include any equity. Additionally, being a shareholder of the Packers does not provide any preferential treatment or access to season tickets.
There are three major benefits to owning a share of stock in the Packers: voting rights, an invitation to an annual shareholders meeting, and the ability to purchase merchandise specifically for shareholders.
The shareholders meeting takes place each year inside Lambeau Field. The purpose of the meeting is to elect the 45-member board of directors and for the executive committee to report on the health of the organization. In recent history, this meeting has coincided with the start of training camp.
Who runs the Packers organization?
A 45-member board of directors is elected by the stockholders, who in turn elect a seven-member executive committee. The executive committee runs the Packers, and is ultimately responsible for the direction of the football team and organization.
Mark Murphy is the President and CEO of the Packers, and represents the team at the NFL’s owners meetings.