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NFL's Packers Are In The Money Business

This article is more than 8 years old.
Safety Charlie Peprah of the Green Bay Packers intercepts a pass from Matt Ryan of the Falcons during the second half of Sunday's game. The Packers won 25-14 and are now 5-0 on the season. (AP)
Safety Charlie Peprah of the Green Bay Packers intercepts a pass from Matt Ryan of the Falcons during the second half of Sunday's game. The Packers won 25-14 and are now 5-0 on the season. (AP)

If you've always wanted to be an NFL owner, but you've no taste for strutting about the field as if you'd had something to do with the play that won the game, your chance is at hand.

If you think you'd enjoy participating in the determination of an NFL team's bottom line by attending an annual meeting with the team's other owners, rather than by agonizing over whether to pony up for a season's ticket, get ready to write a check for about $200.

The Green Bay Packers, the only publicly owned team in the NFL, are preparing to offer shares to the public for the first time since 1997. As stipulated in the league's guidelines, the money the team raises will be used to enlarge and improve the stadium in which the Packers play. Fortunately, all the people who currently own the team have never chosen to attend a game on the same Sunday. They would not have all fit in a luxury box. Their cars would have overwhelmed the parking lot. There are more than 112,000 of them.

The serious side to this story is that the Packers will pay for the stadium improvements without hitting up the residents of Green Bay and environs, 22 of whom allegedly don't care for football, with a new tax. Raising the money will not require a billionaire to weep about how he can't continue to do business under current conditions and threaten to move the team. No public relations flacks will be hired to claim the renovated stadium will anchor an urban renaissance. If more teachers, police officers, and social workers are laid off in the region, it won't be because Lambeau Field, the home of the Packers, is getting an upgrade. The improvements will be funded by people who've chosen to pay the bill so they can laugh, point to a framed stock certificate, and call themselves NFL owners.

This business model makes so much sense that the National Football League long ago decreed that it would never be replicated. The league couldn't undo what the Packers had built, but they've fixed it so other teams generally raise money through promises and schemes that would make the inventors of credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligation blush, if they were capable of doing so.

This program aired on October 12, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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