Notebook: Lottery deal is close

Murphy praises Thompson as about 7,500 people attend the rainy shareholders meeting at Lambeau Field.

Speaking with reporters following Thursday's shareholders meeting, Packers President Mark Murphy said the team was "pretty close" to striking a deal with the Wisconsin Lottery.

In late May, teams voted 32-0 on a measure that would allow individual teams to partner with their state lotteries, allowing the lotteries to drive sales by licensing the use of the teams' names and logos on scratch-off tickets.

It's a potential big moneymaker for teams and cash-strapped states. For instance, the Massachusetts State Lottery has sold $5, $10 and $20 scratch-off tickets baring the name and logo of the Boston Red Sox. The tickets generated $632 million in sales in three years, according to The Associated Press, with communities pocketing $83 million.

It's not known how much the Red Sox pocketed, but it would come out of the 2.1 percent that covers operating expenses. With the Jets exploring such a deal, the New York Daily News said the team could receive about $1 million per year.

"We had some very good discussions with the state lottery," Murphy said. "I think we'll be able to announce something fairly soon."

The Patriots, Chargers, Ravens, Jaguars, Saints and Texans have struck deals. The Vikings and Lions are among teams talking to their states.

Meanwhile, Murphy said the team has a "couple different options" to take advantage of a new NFL rule allowing an advertising patch on practice jerseys but said nothing is imminent. The window on that opportunity is closing for this year with training camp starting on Saturday.

Braving the elements

The Packers estimated about 7,500 people turned out for the meeting. Each shareholder was allowed to bring four guests, but a rainy morning likely kept some fans away. Still, the parking lot was mostly full and the smell of brats permeated the air before the meeting commenced at 10 a.m.

The speakers praised those in attendance.

"Where else are you going to get people to come out in the rain to hear me talk for awhile but not really say anything?" joked general manager Ted Thompson.

Vote of confidence

Murphy praised Thompson, even with the Packers coming off of a 6-10 season.

"I just want to make sure everybody knows what tremendous confidence that myself as well as the board of directors and executive committee has in Ted Thompson," Murphy said. "He is doing an excellent job for us. He's positioned us for success for the future.

"He's a tireless worker and he's not afraid to make difficult situations and he's always looking out for the best interests of the Packers."

Thompson called the record the "white elephant" in the room and took the blame for the seven-win fall in the standings.

"We understand the high standards that are set here," Thompson said. "We expect to win. I think we've got the kind of team that has a chance — if we play well — we'll have a chance to win each and every week. We're supposed to win. The 6-10 record last year is my responsibility and I take responsibility for that."

Money matters

The theme of most shareholders meetings is money, and that topic was covered thoroughly.

As was reported about a month ago, the Packers finished with a final profit of $4.022 million, down from $23.365 million in the fiscal-year that ended on March 31, 2008. The fall was two-pronged: a $14 million increase in player salaries and the economic downturn, which took a 16.5 percent bite out of the Packers' investments and impacted Pro Shop sales.

The Packers didn't add to their $127.5 million Franchise Preservation Fund.

Still, a profit is a profit, and vice president of administration Jason Wied said, "The funds available (for football operations) have not been impaired."

On the plus side, in the first quarter of this fiscal-year, the Packers' investments have increased by about 17 percent, according to board of directors member Mark McMullen. McMullen compared the stock market's performance last year to the Detroit Lions' ineptitude on the football field.

New face

The Packers named Paul Baniel, 47, their vice president of finance. Baniel, a season-ticket holder, held the same title for the Milwaukee Brewers before spending the last six years as chief financial officer of Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee.

Next on the schedule

The Packers checked into their dorms at St. Norbert College in De Pere on Thursday. The players will undergo physicals and testing beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, with the first practice at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the new Ray Nitschke Field. The 1,500-seat practice field will be dedicated at 1 p.m. Saturday. and will include Nitschke's family and local officials.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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