Green Bay Packers, Inc.
The Don Hutson Center
|Legal status||publicly held nonprofit corporation|
|Mark H. Murphy|
The Packers are the only publicly owned franchise in the NFL. Rather than being the property of an individual, partnership, or corporate entity, they are held as of 2015 by 360,584 stockholders. No one is allowed to hold more than 200,000 shares, which represents approximately four percent of the 5,011,557 shares currently outstanding. It is this broad-based community support and non-profit structure which has kept the team in Green Bay for nearly a century in spite of being the smallest market in all of North American professional sports.
Green Bay is the only team with this public form of ownership structure in the NFL, grandfathered when the NFL's current ownership policy stipulating a maximum of 32 owners per team, with one holding a minimum 30% stake, was established in the 1980s. As a publicly held nonprofit, the Packers are also the only American major-league sports franchise to release its financial balance sheet every year.
Board of Directors
Green Bay Packers, Inc., is governed by a seven-member Executive Committee elected from a 45-member board of directors. It consists of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and three members-at-large; only the president is compensated. Responsibilities include directing corporate management, approving major capital expenditures, establishing broad policy, and monitoring management performance.
The team's elected president normally represents the Packers in NFL owners meetings. During his time as coach Vince Lombardi generally represented the team at league meetings in his role as GM, except at owners-only meetings, where president Dominic Olejniczak appeared.
Even though it is referred to as "common stock" in corporate offering documents, a share of Packers stock does not share the same rights traditionally associated with common or preferred stock. It does not include an equity interest, does not pay dividends, cannot be traded, has no securities-law protection, and brings no season ticket purchase privileges. All shareholders receive are voting rights, an invitation to the corporation's annual meeting, and an opportunity to purchase exclusive shareholder-only merchandise. Shares of stock cannot be resold, except back to the team for a fraction of the original price. While new shares can be given as gifts, transfers are technically allowed only between immediate family members once ownership has been established.
There have been five stock issues over the history of the Packers organization:
- 1923 Shares of stock were first sold to establish the club as a corporation in 1923. A total of $5,000 was raised through 1,000 shares offered at $5 apiece. Each stockholder was required to buy six season tickets. Based on the original "Articles of Incorporation for the Green Bay Football Corporation" enacted at that time, should the franchise to have been sold any post-expenses money would have gone to the Sullivan-Wallen Post of the American Legion to build "a proper soldier's memorial." This stipulation was included to ensure there could never be any financial inducement for shareholders to move the club from Green Bay. At the November 1997 annual meeting, shareholders voted to change the beneficiary from the Sullivan-Wallen Post to the Green Bay Packers Foundation, which makes donations to many charities and institutions throughout Wisconsin.
- 1935 A second stock offering was held in 1935, raising $15,000 after the corporation had gone into receivership. The nonprofit Green Bay Football Corporation was then reorganized as the Green Bay Packers, Inc., the present company, with 300 shares of stock outstanding.
- 1950 A third was held in 1950, to raise money to prevent the team from moving out of Green Bay on the heels of founder Curly Lambeau’s retirement after a 30-year reign as coach. Club officers amended corporation’s bylaws to permit up to 10,000 total shares of stock to be held. To ensure no individual could assume control a 200 share limit per stockholder was put in place, and the number of directors increased from 15 to 25. Approximately half the potential 9,700 new shares were sold, raising over $118,000 on some 4,700 $25 shares.
- In addition to being publicly held, the Packers organization also enjoys substantial support directly from its community. In 1956, voters of the city of Green Bay approved funding to construct a new municipally owned stadium. As with its predecessor, it was called City Stadium. On September 11, 1965, it was renamed Lambeau Field.
- 1997–98 In mid-November 1997 the club's then-1,940 shareholders voted to create 1,000,000 new shares, giving themselves a 1000 to 1 split at the same time (which rewarded each with 1,000 shares for every 1 they had owned, turning the original 1,940 into 1,940,000 before the first new share was sold). The net effect was to ensure existing shareholders retained the vast majority of voting power. A 400,000 share public offering followed to raise money for Lambeau Field redevelopment. Running for 17 weeks from late 1997 to March 16, 1998 it raised over $24 million through the purchase of 120,010 shares by 105,989 new shareholders at $200 apiece.
- 2011 To raise money for a large $143-million Lambeau Field expansion, which included approximately 6,700 new seats, new HD video boards, a new sound system, and two new gates, a fifth stock sale began on December 6, 2011. Demand exceeded expectations, and the original 250,000 share limit had to be increased by 30,000. By the offering's end on February 29, 2012 over $64 million had been raised through 250,000 buyers purchasing 269,000 shares at $250 apiece. Buyers were from all 50 U.S. states, and for the first time sales were briefly allowed in Canada, adding around 2,000 shareholders. Approximately 99% of the shares were purchased online.
Green Bay Packers Foundation
The team created the Green Bay Packers Foundation in December 1986. It assists in a wide variety of activities and programs benefiting education, civic affairs, health services, human services and youth-related programs.
At the team's 1997 annual stockholders meeting the foundation was designated in place of a Sullivan-Wallen Post soldiers memorial as recipient of any residual assets upon the team's sale or dissolution.
- "Green Bay Packers – Executive Committee". Retrieved May 19, 2011.
- Saunders, Laura (13 January 2012). "Are the Green Bay Packers the Worst Stock in America?". The Wall Street Journal.
- Kaplan, Daniel (October 26, 2009). "NFL pares ownership rule". SportsBusiness Daily. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
- "Packers plan fifth stock sale". ESPN.com. Associated Press. December 1, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
- "Green Bay Packers 2011 Common Stock Offering Document" (PDF).