The Fan Ownership Structure of The Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay packers have a very unique ownership structure out of all major U.S professional sports teams. Rather than being owned by an individual, the Green Bay packers have existed as a publicly owned nonprofit since 1923.
The Packers take pride in themselves for being the only publicly owned, not-for-profit, major league sports team in the United States. Rather than the team being owned by a wealthy owner or a group of individuals, the team is owned by the fans. There are 360,760 shareholders owning a total of 5,011,588 shares. The ownership in the Packers has made it impossible for a single owner to own the team. In the articles of incorporation, there is no one who can own more than 200,000 shares of the team.
This structure began in 1923 when the Packers found themselves in financial distress. To keep the team afloat, they sold shares to the local residents. Since this period, the team has had 4 additional stock offerings in 1935, 1950, 1997, and 2011. In 2011, the team sold shares in Canada and in the US with all the proceeds going to the renovation and expansion of Lambeau Field. The expansion cost the team $146 million which included a new audio system, two new HD video boards, and 7,000 new seats in the South End zone of the stadium.
You might be wondering what the shareholders get in return for owning a piece of the team. The shareholders of the team get nothing. The shareholders get to “vote to elect Green Bay’s board of directors and a seven-member executive committee that represents the team at league meetings.” Shareholders “have no real say in team decisions, football or otherwise.”
It’s unfortunate that investors in the team don’t make a profit on their investment. The Packers stock doesn’t pay a dividend, it isn’t tradeable or sold. In 2011, the last time a sale was conducted, a single Packers stock went for $250. Shareholders get a souvenir certificate to hang on the wall, an opportunity to buy shareholders-only merch, and an invite to attend Lambeau Field annual shareholders meeting during training camp.
When you’re buying shares into the Green Bay Packers, you’re essentially paying to be part of a big fan club.
Other teams in the NFL are not allowed to be a non-profit like the Packers. The NFL implemented the “Green Bay Rule.” It states that “charitable organizations and/or corporations not organized for profit and not now a member of the league may not hold membership in the National Football League.” The Green Bay Packers were grandfathered in as the only publicly owned team in the league before this rule was implemented.
Would you buy shares into Green Bay?