Green and golden in Titletown

The Green Bay Packers today met with about 2,500 of their part-owners inside the Resch Center in the annual shareholder's meeting. Thanks to the team's soon-to-be completed redeveloped stadium, shareholders received a rosy financial forecast as well as an upbeat team report during the two hour, 40 minute meeting.<p>

The Packers have nearly 111,000 shareholders. More than 2.8 million shares of stock were represented at the meeting, or 60.16 percent of the stock outstanding.

The Packers officially announced an after-tax operating profit of $15.5 million, a record and jump of $11.7 million over the previous fiscal year. The team's fiscal year ends on March 31.

In the competitive National Football League, the Packers took a huge step forward in the revenue rankings, moving up from 20th in the league out of 31 teams in 2001 to 10th out of 32 teams in 2002. The Packers have not ranked that high in revenue since they were ninth in 1997. Since then, the Packers slipped yearly in the rankings.

"We probably will level off in the future, but we know we can compete very nicely there," said team treasurer John Underwood.

Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman spoke for nearly an hour on the state of the Packers. Sherman began his speech by stressing how roster turnover is part of the NFL landscape. Each year, most NFL rosters change by about 33 percent, Sherman said.

"How we handle that transition as players and as coaches is critical," he said.

Sherman touched on the player and staff changes that he made this off-season, expectations of key players, the recent draft, the upcoming schedule, and team goals. Like he has every meeting for the past four years, Sherman told shareholders that winning every home game, repeating as NFC North champions, winning the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field next January, and winning the Super Bowl are the main goals that the team has set.

Coming off two straight 12-4 seasons, Sherman says he wants to do more than win games. "Good teams win games," said Sherman, whose team were eliminated early in the playoffs in the last two years. "Great teams win championships. We're on a mission to become a great football team."

Vice President of Player Finance/General Counsel Andrew Brandt spoke to shareholders about the Packers salary cap situation. Brandt announced that the Packers signed rookie seventh round picks Carl Ford and Steve Josue, leaving the team with three unsigned draft picks – First-round pick Nick Barnett, third-round pick Kenny Peterson, and fifth rounder Hunter Hillenmeyer.

Brandt says he is optimistic that he will iron out a deal for Barnett in the next couple of days. He plans to meet with Barnett's agent at an "undisclosed" destination.

Team president Bob Harlan concluded the meeting by fielding questions from shareholders. The meeting finished after a Chicago Bears season ticket holder stated his disgust with the renovation of Soldier Field, likening it to "an alien space craft." He then went on to say, "Now I have to go back to Chicago and report to my friends that "once again the Packers kicked our (expletive) in something."

Shareholders, who booed the Bears' fan earlier, cheered loudly then filed across the street to tour the inside of the Don Hutson Center, the team's indoor practice facility, and gawk at Lambeau Field.

There's no place like home.


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