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.