Green Bay Packers, Inc.
The Don Hutson Center
|Formation||August 18, 1923|
|Legal status||publicly held nonprofit corporation|
1265 Lombardi Ave
Green Bay, WI 54304-3927
|Affiliations||Green Bay Packers Foundation|
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 2016 by 360,760 stockholders. No one is allowed to hold more than 200,000 shares, which represents approximately four percent of the 5,011,558 shares currently outstanding. It is this broad-based community support and non-profit structure which has kept the team in Green Bay for over 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
The Packers have been a publicly owned, non-profit corporation since August 18, 1923. The corporation currently has 360,760 stockholders, who collectively own 5,011,558 shares of stock after the last stock sale of 2011 to 2012. There have been five stock sales, in 1923, 1935, 1950, 1997, and 2011. Shares in 1923 sold for $5 apiece (approximately $72 in 2017 dollars), while in 1997 they were sold at $200 each and in 2011, $250 each.
The NFL does not allow corporate ownership of clubs, requiring every club to be wholly owned by either a single owner or a small group of owners, one of whom must hold a one-third stake in the team. The Packers are granted an exemption to this rule, as they have been a publicly owned corporation since before the rule was in place.
The corporation is governed by a seven-member executive committee, elected from among the board of directors. The committee directs corporate management, approves major capital expenditures, establishes board policy, and monitors performance of management in conducting the business and affairs of the corporation.
The elected president, currently Mark H. Murphy, represents the corporation at NFL owners meetings and other league functions. The president is the only officer who receives compensation. The balance of the committee sits gratis.
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, and has no protection under securities law. It also confers no season-ticket purchasing privileges. Shareholders receive nothing more than voting rights, an invitation to the corporation's annual meeting, and an opportunity to purchase exclusive shareholder-only merchandise.
Shares 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. A total of $5,000 was raised through the sale of 1,000 shares at $5 apiece. Each stockholder was required to buy six season tickets. To ensure that there could never be any financial inducement for shareholders to move the club outside Green Bay, the original articles of incorporation for the Green Bay Football Corporation stipulated that in the event of the sale of the franchise, all profits from the sale be donated to the Sullivan-Wallen Post of the American Legion, earmarked for the purpose of building "a proper soldier's memorial." At the November 1997 annual meeting, shareholders voted to change the beneficiary to the Green Bay Packers Foundation, established to make donations to charities and institutions throughout Wisconsin.
- 1935: A second stock offering was conducted to raise $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 offering was held to prevent the team from becoming insolvent or moving out of Green Bay in the face of competition from the All-America Football Conference and founder Curly Lambeau’s departure 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 limit of 200 shares per stockholder was implemented 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. Like its predecessor, it was called City Stadium. On September 11, 1965, it was renamed Lambeau Field.
- 1997–98: The club's then-1,940 shareholders voted to create one million new shares, simultaneously giving themselves a thousand-to-one split. The net effect was to ensure that existing shareholders retained the vast majority of voting power. An offering of 400,000 shares 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 at $200 apiece by 105,989 new shareholders.
- 2011: To raise money for a large $143-million Lambeau Field expansion, which included approximately 6,700 new seats, new high-definition 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 was 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. In the summer of 2011, when the team traveled to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl XLV victory, Charles Woodson presented President Barack Obama, a Chicago Bears fan, with a share of the team stock.
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.
- "Executive Committee And Board of Directors". Green Bay Packers. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
- 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.
- "Shareholders". Packers.com. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
- "Green Bay Packers: Michael Gage, team's largest private shareholder, dies at 75". Twin Cities Pioneer Press. February 17, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
- "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).
- Michael McIntee (2011-08-12), Super Bowl Champs Packers At White House, retrieved 2017-12-27