Move over, Jerry Jones. Watch out, Woody Johnson. Forget Dan Snyder – please. There’s some new blood in the NFL’s ownership ranks: me. Yes, I’m now the owner of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. Well, I’m an owner. For $250, plus a $25 handling fee, I bought one share of the NFL’s only undefeated team – and the only community-owned team in American sports.
It may be the stupidest investment I’ve ever made.
The Packers organization is offering 250,000 shares in a stock sale intended to raise money toward a $143 million expansion of Green Bay’s famed Lambeau Field, which will include two new entrance gates to the stadium, 6,700 more seats, and a pair of fancy high-def video boards.
What do I get for my $275? Not much. I’m not a Packers fan and likely won’t ever walk through those new entrances, sit in those new seats or see those fancy screens. If I do want to watch my new team, I won’t get any preferential treatment if I choose to add my name to the waiting list – some 93,000 names long – for season tickets. I will be invited to the annual summer shareholder meetings at Lambeau Field, and I’ll have “voting privileges” – though, to be honest, I have no idea what those will cover. I’m pretty certain they won’t include decisions like which running back to draft or how much to pay our coach.
I certainly won’t see any financial gain. I’ll receive a stock certificate by mail at some point, but my one share won’t ever go up in value, nor will it pay out any dividends. In fact, the 20-page prospectus for the stock offering makes clear, in capital letters, that “it is virtually impossible for anyone to realize a profit on a purchase of common stock or even to recoup the amount initially paid.” I’m not allowed to sell my ownership stake, and if I ever decide that I want to, the team apparently has the right to buy it back from me – for 2.5 cents. I could have done just as well owning Lehman Brothers, or a piece of Max Bialystock’s latest Broadway production.
It all reminds me of the famous comment by onetime Yankees minority owner John McMullen, who noted that there is nothing so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner’s. To that, I’ll now add: except perhaps being an owner of the Green Bay Packers.
And yet, the Packers have not had problems in finding buyers for their fifth ever stock sale. An Associated Press headline running on the National Football League’s website reads, “Shares of Packers stock selling like hotcakes.” The team announced Thursday that, while it had initially set a February 29 deadline to complete the offering, it had already sold 185,000 shares in 48 hours.
After all, this is why rabid sports fans sign up for fantasy leagues, buy odd bits of memorabilia and too often say “we” when talking about their favorite team. As the Packers prospectus puts it, “Ownership will also provide you with significant bragging rights. You will become an owner of the defending world champions, a team that has won more championships than any other team in the NFL.”
That's about all I could hope for as a long-suffering fan of the New York Jets.