The picture-perfect, warm sunny day in Green Bay provided a fitting backdrop for the Packers' finances. All is well with the bottom line in Titletown as the recently renovated Lambeau Field stadium and new Atrium is doing exactly what it was planned to do – boost the team's bottom line.
As John Jones, the team's vice president and chief executive officer, put it: "The franchise is in a golden moment."
For the recent fiscal year, which ended on March 31, the Packers reported an 11.7 percent increase in revenue over the previous year to nearly $200 million ($199,982,241). That number ranks the Packers 10th among 32 NFL teams in revenue.
The Packers are finanically strong, and seemingly getting stronger with each fiscal year. It also has helped that the Packers haven't had a losing season since 1991, so interest in the team remains high.
While the organization's executive committee has a good grip on the direction of the team financially, it has been closely monitoring negotiations on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL Players Association and the league. The player-salary cap agreement ends after the 2006 season and the CBA ends at the end of the 2007 season.
"We have the possibility of an uncapped year, which will require additional financing to make sure we can attract the players we need to attract," said team treasurer Larry Weyers after the shareholder's meeting. "There's a possibility that the revenue sharing could change in some way that will be a negative impact on the Packers. Those are a few of the challenges that we face, plus the signing bonuses are getting pretty large."
Weyers, who has stepped in for the retired John Underwood, reported today that the Packers have built a preservation fund of $97.7 million, up from $84.4 million in fiscal 2004. The Packers have set that money aside as an emergency fund and also to use for signing bonuses if there is an uncapped year.
The Packers have taken steps to make sure they have a voice in the new CBA talks. Jones was assigned by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to serve on the committee that is working on the new CBA. Underwood is serving on a special committee of league economics, and Packers president Bob Harlan is on the Management Council Executive Committee.
"That is a big concern for us, how that Collective Bargaining Agreement, will be determined," Weyers said. "First of all, the level of the cap and how to fund that cap. That is very important in the continuing success of the Packers that that not be settled in a manner that's detrimental to our organization."
The Packers, the league's only publicly owned team, also will be challenged to maintain their ranking among other NFL teams in revenue. Jones told shareholders that five NFL teams (Arizona, New York Jets and New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, and Indianapolis Colts) will have new stadiums by 2009. There are 10 other teams planning for new stadiums.
Any money raised by a team through its stadium remains with the team. For example, the Packers' Atrium generated about $17.1 million through its Pro Shop and $5.9 million through its Atrium last year. That money does not have to be share with the other teams in the league.
"With the new stadiums coming, it's going to increase the pressure on us to continue to generate revenues in the local arena," Weyers said.