The Packers, the only publicly owned team in U.S. professional sports, will begin the fifth stock sale in franchise history on Tuesday, a fund drive that could fill the team's coffers with up to $62.5 million to help fund a $143 million project that will expand historic Lambeau Field's capacity to about 80,000 and add new videoboards in both end zones.
Shares, which will cost $250, will be sold beginning at 8 a.m. (Central) on Tuesday, the team announced on Thursday. The team will initially offer 250,000 shares. That's more than double the amount sold during the most recent sale in 1997.
For legal reasons, more information, including the formal offering document, will not be available until the offering commences. Interested fans will be able to access the full information online at Packers.com.
"We appreciate the interest that fans have expressed in our fifth stock offering," Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said in a press release. "We are not yet in a position to fully discuss the offering. However, this information will answer some of the initial questions that we've received. We look forward to formally launching the offering next week."
The team reminds fans that this is not stock in the traditional sense, though shareholders do get to vote for the Board of Directors and attend the annual meeting at Lambeau Field just before the start of training camp. Shares are not an investment in the team and the team is under "no obligation to repay the amount a buyer pays to purchase Packers stock," the team stated in the news release announcing the sale.
Moreover, "Anyone considering the purchase of Packers stock should not purchase the stock to make a profit or to receive a dividend or tax deduction or any other economic benefits."
Newly purchased shares can be given as gifts. However, once ownership is established, a share can only be transferred within the immediate family.
While being a shareholder might come with some perks, it won't help you move up on the season-ticket waiting list, which has more than 81,000 names.
"Total scam," one fan told Packer Report via Twitter.
That response, however, seemed to be the exception.
"Your chance to join me as part-owner of the world's greatest sports franchise," Kyle Teeselink said in a response more typical of those replying on Twitter.
Fans who live overseas are out of luck. The offering is limited to people with addresses in the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Soldiers and U.S. residents who are overseas will have to use their U.S. addresses.
Per NFL rules, all the money raised will go toward stadium renovations. The Packers plan to add thousands of seats and other amenities in time for the 2013 season. While other teams often ask taxpayers to help pay for building upgrades, the Packers will foot the bill through the stock sale and private financing.
The Packers have been a publicly owned, nonprofit corporation since 1923. The team held its first stock sale that year, followed by sales in 1935 and 1950 that helped keep the franchise afloat even as other small-markets teams were sinking.
At the time of the last sale, in 1997, then-team president Bob Harlan was looking for ways to cover stadium renovation costs. He recalled that other owners balked, worried that the Packers would use the money to compensate their coaches or improve their roster in a way other teams couldn't.
It was only after Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney argued in favor of the idea that the proposal passed. Rooney said the Packers deserved unanimous support because they were a vital part of NFL history. The subsequent vote was indeed unanimous.
Some 400,000 shares went on sale that year for $200 apiece. About 120,000 were sold, raising $24 million. There are 112,205 shareholders who own a total of 4.75 million shares.
''We tried to come up with a figure that would be affordable to everyone,'' Harlan said. ''We never got one complaint about them being too expensive.''
This time, the price will be $250 — and that doesn't include a handling charge. Shares will be able to be purchased online with credit or debit cards and through the mail.
No one may buy more than 200 shares (counting any shares that the person purchased in the 1997-1998 offering).
The offering will continue until Feb. 29, subject to extension.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.