It may be true that many shareholders will come primarily to listen to general manager Ted Thompson's state of the Packers address and to listen to new coach Mike McCarthy talk about the various positions on the team. But, unlike last year and previous meetings, there is something new and different for shareholders at the upcoming meeting.
Last year, the Packers included a practice (mainly rookies and selected veteran free agents) in Lambeau Field as part of the shareholders' meeting. More than 9,000 fans filled the Resch Center across from Don Hutson Center indoor practice facility and at least 2,000 other shareholders' were turned away. When the Packers took the field for practice (in their shorts), more than 15,000 people were in the stadium to watch and cheer many players who were eventually cut at the end of training camp.
The Packers aren't breaking team profit records and ranked among the top 15 teams in the National Football League for nothing. The team has consistently developed new ways to encourage fans to visit and spend money at Lambeau Field, and in the Atrium, throughout the year. So, even though it is mid-July and 90-plus degrees outside, thousands of die-hards will come to Green Bay on Wednesday to not only check in on the financial side of the team, but also to take advantage of the benefit of being a shareholder.
This year, the Packers are offering a free tour of the Packers plush locker room facilities. Many fans have seen bits and pieces of the football-shaped locker room through the media. It's one thing looking at photos of it, but another to be standing in front of Brett Favre's locker and know exactly where he gets dressed on game days and for practices. This is not part of the daily stadium tours, but the team will be offering tours of the locker room to shareholders only on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Many shareholders, no doubt, plan to make the trek to Lambeau Field this week for that reason alone.
"We've heard from quite a few shareholders who are excited to come," said Packers Chairman and CEO Bob Harlan. "A lot of fans will be descending upon Lambeau Field and Green Bay next week. Many of them are going to take the tour on Tuesday so there is less of a wait on Wednesday after the meeting. We're looking forward to a fun couple of days."
The Packers are the only publicly owned professional sports team around. Packers management and board of directors realizes the enthusiasm fans have for their team and are taking advantage of this in a fiscally positive way. There are more than 110,000 Packers shareholders. None of them get any kind of dividend for owning stock from the organization. It's all about the pride of being a "part-owner." But the organization is finding ways to give those shareholders some kind of perk, and this year it's a tour of the locker room. Chances are that while many die-hards are at Lambeau Field, they'll visit the Pro Shop and eat at one of the restaurants in the Atrium. It all combines to feed the Packers' bottom line, which will help them lure the best players and coaches to Green Bay.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.