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What Critics Of The Packers Stock Sale Are Missing

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What Critics Of The Packers Stock Sale Are Missing

I wanted to take a moment to address some of the criticism that has been bandied about this week regarding the Green Bay Packers' stock sale. Now, I don't have much to add to the types of conversations being had on the "D-List", specifically lead by the likes of Dan Needles.

Dan seems to think that the majority of folks buying Packers stock are "idiots" who don't know what they're buying. That hasn't been my experience. In fact, everyone I know who has or who is going to be purchasing stock realizes full well what they are getting for their $250 = a memento to hang on an office wall and a standing invitation to Lambeau Field once a year for the shareholders meeting.

Now, maybe Dan hangs out with different types of people than I do. He talks on the radio for a living. Maybe he's taken one too many calls from the types of people who still can't understand why Thompson didn't bring Favre back. But any literate, halfway sentient being knows exactly what they are getting when they press "Buy Yours Now" on PackersOwner.com.

I did, however, want to take a moment to address the other type of criticism I've heard of the stock sale this week, a much more thoughtful, nuanced take, which has come from Needles' ESPNMilwaukee teammate, Jason Wilde.

Here is what I consider to be a pretty accurate overview of Jason's take (he can correct me if I'm wrong) taken from his Twitter account:

1997 stock sale/Lambeau redevelopment was vital to franchise's survival. I understand why they did it, and fans helped the team -- again.

To have another one 14 years later, after you win another Super Bowl, to add 7,000 more seats, to me is a cash grab. It's greedy.

I completely understand where Jason is coming from here, but I think he's being shortsighted.

Jason is right in one aspect - the Packers don't need the money - right now.

But that's not the point.

If the Packers are to remain competitive in the landscape of the National Football League, they must take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to produce new revenue streams. Be it a stock sale or the upcoming Titletown development, every one serves as coal for the locomotive (the Packers) that is chugging along trying to keep up with the modern high-speed trains (the Cowboys, Redskins & Patriots, etc)

Remember, when Lambeau was renovated in 2003, the Packers shot up into the Top 10 of the most profitable NFL franchises. Over the course of the last decade however, we've seen the Packers slipping further back in the revenue pack, as owners like Jerry Jones have constructed billion dollar stadiums.

The Packers are doing what they need to do to keep up with the likes of Jerry Jones, Daniel Snyder and Robert Kraft and they are doing so because there is simply no better time to maximize the revenue possibilities than right now, with the team coming off a Super Bowl victory, in the midst of an 18 game winning streak, chasing a 19-0 season, ect. It would be foolish not to. Remember, as hard as it is to fathom, the Packers won't be on top forever. And they are not the Washington Redskins, the NFL's top grossing franchise, despite being run by an inept owner, at least in matters pertaining to the game of football.

And that's the point - teams like the Redskins and Cowboys don't even need to be successful on the field to make money, and a lot of it. As I wrote last year, success on the football field is secondary to them. To the Packers, right now, it is everything. It is enabling the Packers franchise to sell stock and make plans for the Titletown development, both things that help the Packers get what teams need to survive in today's NFL - revenue that does not need to be shared.

Don't think that's the case? Look no further than the New England Patriots, a franchise that has done a lot of winning over the last ten years. Their ownership group is in talks with Steve Wynn to build a casino near Gillette Stadium as part of a complex that would include hotels, restaurants and retail stores - all producing revenue the Patriots would not need to share with the rest of the league.

The brain-trust in charge of the Packers franchise, from CEO Mark Murphy to the presiding Board of Directors, are acting in the franchises best interest by holding this stock sale. And the fans are simply doing what they've done since 1923 - pitching in to ensure the long-term solvency of their franchise. No, the stakes aren't what they were in '23 - or even in '97. But make no mistake, the money raised from this latest stock sale will help keep the Packers competitive, not on the field, but in the ever-evolving world of NFL franchises.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (59) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Ceallaigh's picture

<i>Their ownership group is in talks with Steve Wynn to build a casino near Gillette Stadium as part of a complex that would include hotels, restaurants and retail stores</i>

Contrast with the real estate surrounding Lambeau, in particular the blight down Lombardi from Ridge Road to Hwy 41. Aside from Krolls and a few stadium-related bars, there's not much. It sure as heck isn't inviting like a Patriots Village or whatever Wynn wants to call that potential development. I like the idea of renovating that area, that quite frankly, stagnated back in 80's.

If the Throwback Weekend gathering was a microscopic view of the great Packers following, there are people willing to come to Green Bay for the gameday experience and not even step foot in Lambeau for the game. If the area is more appealing as a whole with more options than a few pole shed bars and a dive motel across the street, then this area could bring in more of these types of fans in addition to 7000 more that would be seated in the actual stadium.

It means more revenue and more jobs for Brown County. How can that not be a win for the entire county?

And you're absolutely right, Aaron, it's a lot harder to have a fund drive when your team is 4-12. The Packers don't have a single deep pocket like a Jerry Jones or Steve Wynn, but it does have thousands of fans that can pitch in a little from their own pockets. It's one of the things that makes our team (and I say that because I became one of those "idiots" that bought a share this week) special.

Ken's picture

I was in Boston this summer and visited Patriots Place. In between a Bass Pro Shop, Toby Keith Bar and Grill and a Bar Louie, they managed to fit a football stadium.

I'm all for sound business decisions that maximize the franchise's long-term economic outlook. But at some point, every dollar that is spent within a five mile radius of Lambeau Field will go to the organization.

Bob's picture

There are always people who stand on the other side of the fence. Greed is what drives this country, you will find it in any company. It's all about the money, do more, take less pay and benefits. What the Packers are doing is just business. The right or the wrong of it will be dicided when you take your last breath.

dullgeek's picture

While I don't disagree with anything here, my main beef with all the critics is an assumption that the sale of stock needs to be justified.

1) People buying the stock are doing so under no compulsion.
2) The Packers are willing and able to sell this stock.
3) The purchase of this stock impacts no one other than those directly involved in the transaction.

Willing buyer. Willing seller. No 3rd party harm. What further justification is required? Criticism of this - from 3rd parties to the transaction - seem to me to be the thing that needs justification.

Put another way: Mind your own business!

I really fail to comprehend why this private transaction is worthy of criticism.

D.D. Driver's picture

The issue is that it is called "stock." If the Packers (or Cowboys or Niners or anyone) charged $250 to become a lifetime member of the Die Hard Super Fan Club which entitled you to an invitation to an annual Die Hard Super Fan Club Meeting, nobody would blink an eye. And $250 for a lifetime membership in such a club doesn't seem that steep.

But people hear the word "stock" and they can't conceive of such a thing other than as an investment. Which its not.

packeraaron's picture

Excellent point.

NoWayJose's picture

The fact that its stock is the whole point. I wouldnt buy the DieHard Super Fan Club membership that helps the team. If Mark Murphy just asked for donations (in a time where the franschise was healthy), i wouldnt open the wallet. But I giddily plunked down for stock.

Why? Stock = ownership. I am very happy my money is helping the Packers, Lambeau and Green Bay redevelopment (seriously). But, it's key that this thing is STOCK. The feeling of ownership that goes along with contributing is vital.

And lots of people just don't get why we value that intangible feeling of ownership.

Those people will never know the joy of knowing that they can pass down ownership of the Green Bay Packers to their kids. If that's an intangible benefit, fine by me.

cow42's picture

you don't own jack.
that's like saying if you buy a jersey at the pro shop and wear it that you're part of the team.

CSS's picture

He said 'feeling of ownership' twice.

PackersRS's picture

Technically, because it is a stock and the team is publicly owned, as a shareholder he DOES own the team. He has no control over the team whatsoever, but he owns it.

NoWayJose's picture

It's a sports team, cow42. It's totally irrational that I experience joy and pride when adult strangers run into a particular rectangular grassy field in the state of wisconsin while carrying a ball.

Why the hell is it any more irrational for me to feel good about buying stock? Lighten up.

Plus, I legally own the team, so you're wrong ;)

CSS's picture

That, and according to the NFP you stock owners are subject to (up to) a $5,000 fine for betting on NFL games (not just Packers, any game). Must be some type of legitimate ownership if you're now subject to a fine by the commissioner:)

http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Packers-shareholders-can-be-fined-50...

dullgeek's picture

So... the critics of this are assuming that the purchasers are being duped. While the purchasers think that the critics can't conceive of a stock that has no ROI.

Basically everyone is assuming the other side is ignorant.

I'd like to think that my side (as a purchaser) can calmly explain to the critics that we're not being duped and we understand what we're doing, and we're still doing it, without having to assume that the other side is idiotic.

But so far that's not going so well for me.

jeremy's picture

If you don't like the Packers stock sale then don't by any stock. Maybe Wilde and Needles need to read the definition of "Free Market".

MadMan's picture

Also with the way the economy is you won't find interest rates for long term debt this cheap in the future. Good time to take advantage of it now. Packers seem to now have a business savey group running the show the last decade compared to the knuckle heads they had through the 70' and 80's.

Brian Carriveau's picture

And to make sure it's a long time before the Packers are ever in the same position they were before the renovation of Lambeau Field. The Packers aren't in a position where they need money now, but they knew what it's like to need money in the not-so-distant past. They're making sure they're not in that position again. This is professional sports. If you want to be successful, you have to play the game. The game outside the game, if you will.

Fantastic job, Aaron.

njwis's picture

Every generation of packer fan should have the opportunity to purchase a share of stock. This is why Wilde's argument falls flat alone.

Chazman's picture

In 1997 I couldn't swing the $200 for the purchase of Packers stock and I have regretted it every season since. I corrected that on Tuesday. I don't care if people think its a money grab, I don't care that the stock is financially worthless, that is immaterial to me. Worth is subjective, and I am now the proud owner of a team that has my love and respect and to me that is priceless.

ColoradoPackerBacker's picture

Exact same situation here. Well said.

Michael from Winnipeg's picture

Same here, I didnt buy in 1997. However, being a resident of Canada, I am hoping they will be able to sell to international fans as well. I am going to guess that they will open it up to hopefully atleast Canadians, when the stock sale starts to slow a bit, and they can get past any regulations?

Kay's picture

This is exactly my take on it.

There are people right now in Green Bay that are in need of a job. I happen to be one of them in college as we speak in tourism interests.

There's interest right now over near Lambeau for space to create a Packer style village from Ashland Ave to Marlee/Military Ave. The space is there but demand for it needs to be there. Ask places like Marty's Crab Shack why they were not successful.

So if they create shares for people to willingly buy to create 6,000 new seats, the demand will go up as far as getting hotels, restaurant seating, and tourist attractions and more people will be taken off the waiting lists for season tickets.

It's simple and basic economics and it's purely a win-win for Packer fans, the unemployed in Green Bay and especially taxpayers.

John R.'s picture

This was really needed. Great article Aaron. The national stories on this are so out of context. I only wish you could go on ESPN, PFT to state this case. Really hope Jason brings this up today on Green and Gold Today as well as D list and Homer.

With the addition of seats and a whole new district, this will mitigate A LOT of the risk the packers are about to undertake. Just because someone isn't suing the team or it needs immediate rennovations, doesn't mean this sale won't help the pack be competitive for years to come.

tony's picture

clapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclapclap

Idiot Fan's picture

My only complaint is what they want to do to the stadium. I think it will be ugly.

packeraaron's picture

I'm dubious as well, but then again, I thought the renovation would be a disaster and that turned out wonderfully.

tony's picture

I agree... we should never doubt anything GBP related.

Jayme Snowden's picture

Love the article Aaron.

I greatly dislike the way it feels people feel they need to step in to prevent us from being "duped". I'm going to love my $250 piece of paper and know that's all it is.

But I'm also starting to hate the 'you could be donating that money instead, especially to a much more important cause'. I so sick of this. No one knows how we spend the rest of our money and its an own personal value in the stock. Just because someone else doesn't share that personal investment in it, doesn't mean that value doesn't exist for me. I've heard, from the vast smart-ness that is twitter, "there's starving kids in Africa", etc. I want to bang my head against the wall.

Shinning moment of the week, when I tweeted a simple Dan Needles can suck it. And Matt Salmon, while mentioning that I write for cheeseheadtv, read it on air.

Kendra's picture

Jayme, I also hate that "you could donate that money to a better cause" argument.

That could be said about any kind of discretionary spending. Massage? Facial? Jewelry? Why golf at the most expensive course when a less expensive course would do and you could donate the difference?

Or why upgrade to the latest technology when something less expensive gets the job done? The difference could go to charity.

The argument is impossibly smug, IMO.

Chazman's picture

I can't help but wonder if some of the blowback is because we as Green Bay Packers fans are the only fanbase that can actually buy a piece of their team. Let's face it, no one else can.

PackersRS's picture

Anyone who's a critic of the stock sale system is a moron, nothing short.

They complain about people being "duped", but the alternative is the billionaire owner of the franchise using taxpayer's money to build his stadium.

If you ask me, the real idiots are Wilde and Needles that paid for Miller Park without even agreeing to it...

Chad Toporski's picture

Kevin Seifert over on the NFC North Blog made the same excellent point. He and Aaron provide two great arguments for the cognitive (rather than emotive) support of the stock sale.

Ken's picture

+1...Miller Park's financing was a complete SHAM. They'll put a Leine's Lodge on Jupiter before that thing is paid off.

Kendra's picture

I'm glad you wrote this. I've wanted to respond to Jason's tweets but Twitter just seemed like too hard of a medium to do it in.

He has admitted he is more of a individual fan than a team fan and I can respect that, especially since he's in the media. But I do think that perspective means he's looking at this stock sale with a more jaded eye than I think it requires.

Mark Murphy is not Bob Harlan. And this stock sale does feel different. This stock sale is about trying to ensure that the Packers aren't behind the 8 ball the way they were in 1997 when the last stock was sold. I don't see a moral victory in having to scramble.

But I also don't see how this is more of a 'cash grab' than the sale was in 1997. The Packers won the Super Bowl and then held a stock sale. They began the process to try to get the tax to renovate Lambeau. It was something that was probably largely possible because of the rebirth of the franchise and something that maybe couldn't have been done the 30 years prior. In ten years, the stock bought today will mean no more or less to the team's overall financial solvency than stock bought in 1997. We know what it goes towards. It's completing something that Harlan allegedly wanted but didn't feel he could pay for at the time. But now we can...without going to the tax payers.

Finally, as others have pointed out, a large part of this is more about fans wanting to buy this specific, unique connection/memorabilia to the team (not individual) they love. It's for new fans or fans who, for whatever reason, couldn't purchase the stock in '97.

People spend a lot of money on things that have no "increase" in value after it's purchased. This is the kind of thing that brings years of happiness to their owners. I am likely going to buy a joint stock for my parents with my sister for Christmas. I doubt they'd spend the money on themselves just like I doubt I'd spend that kind of money on myself. But I know it will tickle the hell out of my dad for a long time and isn't that what gifts are for?

I don't particularly care that this time it's being done by a shrewd businessman vs. someone with the character of Harlan. The owners? The Team? They're still the same and they will be there long past any individual president.

FITZCORE1252&#039;s EVO's picture

Everyone in my house will now have a share with their name on it, I've put $100 a paycheck in an envelope that i had set aside for this, $1,025 to be exact. I knew what I was buying and I have zero issues with it. It's something I wished I had since '97 and something my kids can grow up being proud about. I don't feel duped, I feel great about it actually. I just don't know what was a better grand spent, this or my #2 of 25 Lambeau field turnstyle... wife still not thrilled about that purchase.

GBP 4 LIFE

Mojo's picture

Believe me we all "waste" more than $250 just living our lives. Some people think nothing of spending over a hundred bucks a month on cable or cell phones or paying way over cost at restaurants. I might consider these frivolous but the billions of buyers don't. One could state the case that whenever we buy jewelry we're buying something that may have sentimental or cosmetic value but no practical value. The list could go on for infinity.

The Packers need to stock pile cash whenever the opportunity arises. There is no greed here. Wilde and the like go to the default mode of any organization trying to act in it's best interest is out of line. I hope the Packers squirrel-away enough money so questions of the solvency are not a concern for at least the next millennium.

Ceallaigh's picture

Exactly. A warchest is built during times or prosperty. You are more likley to find willing volunteers to contribute when a team is doing well. That's why it has happened after each Super Bowl victory.

I can't imagine the fans being as generous in the middle of the Eighties when the thought of even getting a wild card berth in the playoffs was nothing more than a pipe dream.

Andrew Garda's picture

It's an expensive extravagance but if you can afford it, why not? If I had the cash and the Jets had a 'stock' sale I'd consider it. I know my son would frame it and love it forever.

I don't think anyone doesn't know what it really is. I don't think many people think they really have a voice because they own it.

I DO think that I'd rather there be this volunteer donation program rather than PSLs and whining beggars demanding public cash all the time.

As Aaron pointed out - and I talked about in an article about the Big Market and Small Market owner wars during the lockout, Green Bay has had some rough franchise times.

Plan for the future so you can have one and you don't end up being the center of rumors moving to LA/London.

PackerBacker's picture

I just talked to a friend of mine. He lives in Wyoming and is a Detroit Lions fan.

He just bought a stock share.

When I asked him why, he said it was because as a kid he'd always wanted to own a pro franchise and he saw this as a small way to make that happen.

He knows that it's worth nothing more than the paper its printed on, but it's the idea behind it that he liked.

It's pretty cool that the Packers can do that and no other pro team in the world can.

Will's picture

Certainly the Packer stock has done as well as the rest of the market since 1997. I am sure the certificate would fetch 250 on E Bay. The one from the 40,s or 50's has extreme value.

The right to vote and a good Tailgate in July every year for Life is worth 250 to me

B4lombardi's picture

I have been following the Packers for nearly 58 years. I spend a good portion of each day reading about them and enjoying each and every moment of it! I can't help my team by playing for it. I can't help my team by giving them inspiring speeches. All I can do is give them a few dollars to "pay back" the debt I owe them!

This team brings my family together each and every week. It may be a worthless piece of paper to some but not to me. It is time we take STOCK of whats important in life. Family and The Green Bay Packers!

Chazman's picture

+1

Ken's picture

On a sidenote, Dan Needles is terrible. Drew Olson (fellow proud J-school grad at UWM) carries that show when Wilde isn't on.

packeraaron's picture

I tend to agree Ken.

AJKUHN's picture

Anyone criticizing Packers stock should save their anger for when their team accepts a big offer to move to LA, and realize that is part of why the Packers will always be in Green Bay.

Ceallaigh's picture

But they can't move to LA. It's in the bylaws. And that's what makes stock ownership so special. It's our team. It will always be in Green Bay. Haters to the left.

overkill's picture

Told I'd get a pair of socks.

timstrand's picture

While I have not yet purchased a share of the "stock", I see the price of $275 with shipping a small price to pay to do what I can to help support a team that brings me infinitely more joy than what 275 bucks can buy me - win or lose. If this means the Packers are even 10% more likely to be successful 10 yrs from now, it's a wise investment to me.

markinmontana's picture

I think the stock is a good investment in terms of team pride and owning a part of history. What has stopped be from buying it is that as a stockholder, you are subject to "team owner" rules, which includes prohibiting criticizing the NFL or its member organizations publicly. It is a very small chance, but a chance nonetheless, that you could be fined $500,000 for chanting "THE BEARS STILL SUCK!" at a game. Again, a very small risk in the real world, but something worth considering. Here's the language from the stock prospectus:

The NFL Rules prohibit conduct by shareholders of NFL member clubs that is detrimental to the NFL, including, among other things, owning a financial interest in any other NFL member club or other professional football organization; loaning money to other NFL member clubs or any player, coach or employee thereof or any football official employed by the NFL; acting as an agent for any NFL player; publicly criticizing any NFL member club or its management, employees or coaches or any football official employed by the NFL; or paying an NFL player or coach. If the Commissioner of the NFL (the “Commissioner”) decides that a shareholder of an NFL member club has been guilty of conduct detrimental to the welfare of the NFL then, among other things, the Commissioner has the authority to fine such shareholder in an amount not in excess of $500,000 and/or require such shareholder to sell his or her stock. In addition, if the Commissioner determines that a shareholder has bet on the outcome or score of any game played in the NFL, among other things, then the Commissioner may fine such shareholder in an amount not in excess of $5,000 and/or require such shareholder to sell his or her stock. If the Commissioner requires a shareholder to sell his or her stock, then the Corporation may have a right to repurchase the stock at $0.025 per share. See “Transfer Restrictions.

slapinem's picture

If anybody knows this Needles guy could you slap the crap out of him for me...Thanks!!!

JohnRehor's picture

Once I get the stock certificate I purchased Tuesday, I will look at it with a tremendous sense of pride for the rest of my life. Knowing that I am part of something great, a shareholder in the team I support, is something I will treasure forever.

The only person being a shareholder has to matter to is me. And no matter what they choose to spend the money I spent on the share of stock I purchased, I support their decision.

Those who want to hate on it, go ahead and hate. I don't need their approval to support my team how I choose to

Tommyboy's picture

Sorry if I'm repeating an above comment, but if you're any sort of Packer fan, you know about Packer "stock." Perhaps national media guys don't, but I've been aware of the essentially worthless "stock" since I was a kid watching Sterling Sharpe wear #84. Saying they're duping people sounds sexy, but is lazy. Anyone who says that obviously didn't ask anyone who would actually know.

Oppy's picture

"Cash Grab"??

REally?

Wilde has been covering the Packers for well over a decade now, hasn't he?

He knows the Packers are a not-for-profit, I would assume.

So Wilde just thinks the Packers are hoarding money?

Come on, Mr. Wilde.. You know better than that.

wingnuts's picture

Greatly written Aaron,

I have just one thing to say.

I'M A PACKERS SHAREHOLDER!!!!!! (as of Tuesday that is)

and only a Packer fan can understand the excitment involved in that.

Mojo's picture

I thought I could wait to get my share in a couple weeks but then read over 185,000 of the 250,000 had already been sold!

So as of Thursday I'm an official Green Bay Packer shareholder. Very happy.

Now I have to find a frame.

Mojo's picture

Oh, and one more thing. I can now say "we", "us" and "our" and have some validity behind those words.

Long live the Green and Gold.

Richard Chang's picture

Isn't the success of Patriot Place overblown? I thought I read that the proposed casino is a Plan B of sorts to try &amp; save Patriot Place

packeraaron's picture

Yes. I highlighted the casino for the very reason you state.

NewPackerOwner's picture

Brother-in-law works for Miron Construction who is the general contractor on the project. He has seen the plans and told me the new seating areas will have heated concrete!

o dragao da maldada contra o santo guerrero's picture

Sacrilege

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