Green Bay Packers to Sell Stock to Raise Money for Stadium

October 11, 2011

The Green Bay Packers, reigning Superbowl champions and the NFL’s only publicly owned team, are heading towards a new stock sale by the end of the year to raise money that would help pay for $130 million in renovations at the historic Lambeau Field.

Each share likely would cost about $200 and include voting rights, though the value wouldn’t appreciate and there would be no dividends. Stockholders would be able to attend annual meetings at Lambeau, and they’d enjoy such perks as tours of the playing field and locker rooms and will be officially recognised as NFL owners.

An owners’ vote will not be needed because the proposal meets the same conditions established in 1997, the last time Green Bay sold stock, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. He said the league allows the Packers to sell stock as long as the money is used only for capital costs such as stadium improvements.

The Packers plan to add thousands of seats and other stadium amenities in time for the 2013 season. While other teams often ask taxpayers to help pay for building upgrades, the Packers will foot the entire bill themselves through the stock sale and private financing.

The stock sale would be the fifth in Packers’ history. There are currently 112,205 shareholders who own a total of 4.75 million shares.

Just as businesses have to enter a quiet period before going public, the Packers say they can’t reveal much until regulatory issues are resolved.

Jason Wied, the team’s vice president of administration/general counsel, said: “We intend to keep our fans informed of further developments to the greatest extent possible.”

If the team gets final approval, the stock sale could begin within weeks. However, shares of stock can’t be resold, and transfer of shares is generally limited to immediate relatives and heirs.

The Packers have been a publicly owned nonprofit corporation since 1923. The team held its first stock sale that year, followed by sales in 1935 and 1950 that helped keep the franchise afloat while other small-markets teams were going under.

The team’s only other stock offering was in 1997. The team president at the time, Bob Harlan, was looking for ways to cover stadium renovation costs. He recalled that other owners balked, worried that the Packers would use the money to compensate their coaches or improve their roster in a way other teams couldn’t.

It only was after Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney joined commissioner Paul Tagliabue in supporting the idea that the proposal passed. Rooney argued that the Packers deserved unanimous support because they were a vital part of NFL history. The subsequent vote was unanimous.

Some 400,000 shares went on sale for $200 apiece. About 120,000 shares were sold, raising $24 million.

“We tried to come up with a figure that would be affordable to everyone,” Harlan said. “We never got one complaint about them being too expensive.”

While the Packers organization couldn’t say much about a new stock sale, Aiello, the NFL spokesman, said the team plans to sell the shares left over from 1997. The new price hasn’t been released but it’s expected to be in the similar $200 price range.