Packers making all right moves with finances

Don't be surprised to see organization build its own hotel, entertainment facility in near future, says Packer Report's Todd Korth

The good news: revenues and profits increased again for the Green Bay Packers. The not-so-good news: expenses are up as well, according to published reports today regarding the team's annual overview.

The Packers took in about $241 million in operating revenue for the 2007-08 fiscal year that ended March 31, about 10 percent more than the previous year, according to the Associated Press. But thanks to a significant rise in player costs, the team's total operating profit fell more than 37 percent to $21.4 million.

"We had a good year," Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said. "But not as strong as you might have anticipated."

That's true for an operation with $241 in operating revenue. But always keep in mind that the Green Bay Packers are constantly thinking of different ways to increase its bottom line, though, the renovation of the stadium paying off handsomely. Work on expanding the auxiliary Pro Shop on the west side of Lambeau Field is under way.

Perhaps even more significant is the team's purchase of land near the stadium last year. The land, most of it which is the current sites of a Kmart and Big Lots, could eventually be developed into retail stores or entertainment venues. Don't be surprise to see the team construct a hotel as well.

Murphy says that the Packers are always seeking ways to drive Packers fans to Green Bay, so why not start by housing those fans in a team hotel and entertaining them all within walking distance of the Lambeau Field atrium? That land purchased by the team gives it more than enough room for that option, which also could include the aforementioned retail stores and restaurants.

"We don't have any definite plans right now, but there are a number of options," Packers treasurer Larry Weyers said.

What a better way to help off-set player costs, which went from from $110 million in the 2006-07 fiscal year to $124 million last year.

"Player expenses are increasing at a more rapid rate, and that concerns us," Weyers said.

As a public corporation, the Packers are the only NFL team that releases annual financial statements. But Murphy said other teams are in similar situations and have the same concerns.

"When you really look at it carefully, it shows why the owners have the concerns they do," Murphy said.

The Packers constantly use local hotels to house their own players and to use as a place to stay the night before home games. Visiting teams often stay in Appleton, about a 40-minute drive from Lambeau Field, before games because of a lack of hotels in the Green Bay area. The Packers would not only save money by utilizing their own hotel, but also use it to beat up on visiting teams' bottom line before beating up on them on the field.

The Packers put away another $2 million into its "franchise preservation fund," which increased to $127.5 million. That's a good stockpile of money, especially with a possible work stoppage in 2011. Maybe a hotel and entertainment facility can help increase that stockpile.

"We obviously want to solve the collective bargaining agreement and extend it," Murphy said. "But we also have to be prepared in the event of a work stoppage."

Weyers said the Lambeau Field renovation is paying off as promised, generating money to help the team remain competitive and drawing tourists to the Green Bay area throughout the year - not just during football season.

"In order to be successful in this league, you've got to depend more and more on local revenue," Weyers said.

So how much more local would a hotel facility with other revenue generating options be? Fans would love it, especially knowing that visiting teams and possibly their own team stays there during home-game weekends.

The Packers have the land. Now it will be interesting to see how they use it. Could Hotel Green Bay Packers be on the way? We'll see!

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