The Green Bay Packers announced this week that their latest stock offering, the fifth in franchise history, had raised $67 million to help refurbish Lambeau Field, including the addition of 6700 seats.

The Packers are owned by the fans, not a wealthy owner operating with a profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) philosophy. The franchise is a publicly-owned non-profit with a unique stock ownership structure.

The Packers issued stock to the public in 1923 in order to stay afloat as a franchise. Ownership pays no dividends and doesn’t provide any other perks (most notably, there aren’t any game ticket privileges). Most shareholders live in the Green Bay area, or at least the state of Wisconsin, although there are no residency requirements (due to the Packers’ current status as a “national” team, about 50% of the shareholders from this latest offering live outside Wisconsin, including about 2000 shares purchased by people in Canada) . Nevertheless, all profits are invested back into the team. Green Bay’s bylaws state that the Packers are “a community project, intended to promote community welfare.” What a refreshing approach. The chances the Packers will pack up and leave Green Bay are slim and none.
“It makes them an example,” according to ESPN’s Patrick Hruby. “A case study. A working model for a better way to organize and administer pro sports.”

The NFL, NBA, and MLB have either formally or informally banned ownership structures comparable to the Packers’. That’s clearly an “anti-fan” policy.

As League of Fans founder Ralph Nader has said, “The fundamental problem in pro sports is that we’ve given free reign to owners through a self-regulated monopoly system — including anti-trust exemptions — which allows owners to pursue a profit-at-all-costs agenda at the expense of fans. This system has resulted in owners playing one city off another in the quest for new taxpayer-funded stadiums and other freeloading. A community ownership model, like the Green Bay Packers’, works. It’s a better way to structure and administer professional sports. It should become an optional mainstay of sports policy in this country.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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