GREEN BAY, Wis. – It’s part of what makes the Packers franchise truly special and different: there’s not one owner, but rather hundreds of thousands.
“Owner” of the Green Bay Packers is a title that applies to 363,948 people, representing more than 5 million shares and that one sense of community.
“It’s just something nice to have. It gives you a feeling that you’re part of something, and part of something good,” says Robert Perdelwitz, a Packers shareholder.
“There’s a sense of pride in it, that’s really more important than anything,” says Duane Menor, another shareholder.
The story behind this special sports team is actually one of the most remarkable business stories you’ll ever hear, and it all goes back to about a century ago.
As Cliff Christl, Packers historian, explains: “1923, the Green Bay Football Corporation was created, and that was the beginning of the Packers being a community owned, non-profit team.”
Christl says the first stock sale in 1923 raised about $5,000. But more than a decade later, the franchise was in trouble: the corporation went into receivership and the team needed help.
“They held a second stock sale then in conjunction with the Green Bay Packers incorporated, and that sale raised a little bit more than 12,000,” says Christl.
They needed seed money, so the Packers could play games and travel.
Fans stepped up again in 1950, helping the team stay put. There wouldn’t be another stock sale until the 1990’s, and again in 2011. Those came after Super Bowl wins and helped turn Lambeau Field into what it is today.
Shareholders see those results every year, filling the seats of Lambeau at the annual shareholders meetings. For them, it’s not about the money, and that’s a good thing because the stock doesn’t pay dividends and can’t be traded.
“This is special. There’s something different about this place then there is – we have a special pride,” says Menor. “It’s not that we think we’re better than other people, we just know we have something different that’s really special.”
Something bigger than fandom, something truly unique.
“We’re all cheese heads, we love our Packers,” says Perdelwitz.
As a publicly held nonprofit corporation, the Packers are the only professional sports team in the country that releases its financial balance every year. This fiscal year, the Packers reported a record revenue of $454.9 million.