Packers Get NFL Approval to Sell Stock for Lambeau Improvements

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The Green Bay Packers, the only publicly owned professional U.S. sports franchise, received National Football League approval to hold their fifth stock sale to help finance a $140 million upgrade to Lambeau Field.

The team may complete the sale of 100,000 shares priced at $200 or more per share by Christmas, Jason Wied, the team’s vice president of administration and general counsel, said last month. The Packers want to add 6,600 seats and two gates to the 54-year-old field.

“The Packers appreciate the NFL’s review of our information relating to a potential stock sale,” Wied said last night in an e-mailed statement. “Proceeding with a stock sale would also involve regulatory steps and other actions, which we are exploring. We intend to keep our fans informed of further developments to the greatest extent possible.”

Commissioner Roger Goodell “has determined that the stock sale meets the appropriate conditions established in 1997 for such a sale in order to raise funds for stadium renovation,” NFL senior vice president Greg Aiello said in an e-mail.

The NFL said in 1997 that the Packers could sell stock for capital-raising purposes such as stadium improvements, Aiello said. The proceeds will be held separate from other team funds.

Shares Authorized

“In this case, the Packers are planning to sell shares that were authorized, but not sold, in 1997,” Aiello said.

The other 31 NFL teams will be briefed on the plan at the owners meeting Oct. 11 in Houston. No ownership vote is required, Aiello said.

Green Bay is the smallest market in the NFL, with a population of 100,971, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Packers are valued at $1.08 billion, ninth highest in the league, according to Forbes magazine. The team’s permanence keeps the franchise from reaching its maximum value, Robert Boland, Academic Chair of NYU’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Sports Management, said in an interview last month.

The Packers have about 112,000 shareholders owning 4.75 million shares. The team has sold shares four times in its 93-year history, first in 1923 when 1,000 people bought $5 shares and most recently in 1997 when the team raised $24 million to renovate Lambeau. Then, the Packers issued more than 100,000 shares at $200 apiece.

Shareholders vote on board members, and get an invitation to the team’s annual meeting in July, where the team schedules a special event each season, such as a locker-room tour or a private rookie practice. There is also a private merchandise store with shirts, hats and accessories priced from $5 to $65.

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