NFL Packers’ Profit Declines 53% on Rodgers, Matthews Extensions

The Green Bay Packers had a team-record $324.1 million in revenue last season as their profit from operations declined 53 percent largely due to contract extensions for Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews.

The Packers are the only publicly owned franchise in major North American sports leagues and offer a rare look at the financial operations of a National Football League team. The team issues shares, but they can’t be traded.

The Packers last season ranked ninth among the league’s 32 teams in revenue, even though the franchise is in the nation’s 70th-largest media market and among only six NFL teams without a current stadium naming-rights deal. Profit from operations dipped to $25.6 million last season, down from a record $54.3 million in fiscal 2013, because of what team president Mark Murphy said is the cyclical nature of player contracts.

“It’s a timing issue,” Murphy said yesterday on a conference call. “We predicted we’d have a pretty significant increase in player costs. Last year, it started at the beginning of the fiscal year with two significant extensions of player contracts.”

Murphy said the team had a $35 million jump in player costs last season, with multiyear extensions for Rodgers and Matthews both counting on the books for 2014 even though they were signed in April 2013. Rodgers, the Packers’ quarterback and the NFL’s 2012 Most Valuable Player, received a five-year deal the Green Bay Press Gazette said was worth $110 million. Matthews, a four-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker, got a five-year deal for almost $70 million.

Expanded Facilities

“Another big factor was the new football facilities we brought online -- our depreciation was up $8 million,” Murphy said. “But we’re in a really sound position financially for the future.”

The Packers, who have won three straight division titles, last season added 7,000 seats in the south end zone at Lambeau Field to increase capacity to almost 81,000. Murphy said it’s now the second-largest NFL facility behind MetLife Stadium, the shared venue of the New York Giants and Jets in New Jersey.

The expansion resulted in a $10 million increase in revenue -- $8 million in ticket sales and concessions, and $2 million in sponsorships, Murphy said.

The Packers’ national revenue increased about 4 percent to $187.7 million last season, while local revenue rose to $136.4 million, up 6.4 percent.

Merchandise Sales

Murphy said the increase was attributable to the league’s NFL Network contract, an “uptick in revenue” from the team’s partnership with Nike Inc. and strong sales of merchandise. The Packers this year are opening a new store that will be twice the size of their previous shop, along with a new entrance gate at Lambeau Field. The team has sold naming rights to its other major gates.

“Since we rank 17th in ticket prices, we’re doing some good things in other areas,” Murphy said. “With the Pro Shop and sponsorships, we’ve been creative there, especially since we don’t have naming rights for our stadium. With the gates and naming rights opportunities there, we’ve offset that.”

Murphy said the team has been purchasing land around Lambeau Field and will continue to invest in the stadium and surrounding area, with plans to expand its parking areas and Titletown District. Hunting and fishing-focused retailer Cabela’s Inc. last year opened a store in the district.

Green Bay Packers Inc. has been a publicly owned, non-profit corporation since August 1932, according to the team’s website.

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