Those Pinko-Commie Packers

I know it’s heresy to suggest this, but I may have to root for the Packers in February. Partly because of pride. After all, I want to be able to hang my head high and say that my team was barely beaten by the Super Bowl champions.

But more because they’re a darned good organization even though, from a financial standpoint, they’re the underdogs. Unlike baseball’s Yankees, they don’t have nearly the funds nor nearby fans to pull off all the championships and championship appearances that they have. Five Super Bowls in fifteen years. The only other comparable team in major league football is the Patriots. But they have all of New England rooting for them (much like the Red Sox, who also have immense funds from which to draw). Greater Boston alone has four and a half million people. All of Wisconsin has roughly five and a half million, with Green Bay’s Brown County clocking in at a quarter million.

Green Bay, however, owns their football team. Although their players and staff make a decent amount of money, it’s (to the shock, I’m sure, of most fans ) a socialist* enterprise.

This is the same Packers that sport the lowest median salary in the NFL at $440,520. The ousted Seattle Seahawks are at $959,200, the departed Dallas Cowboys are at $699,000, and those nasty Giants are at $724,000.

Somehow despite the small market, somehow without paying the highest salaries, somehow the Green Bay Packers will sit atop the National Football Conference Sunday night on their way to the biggest market share of the year, an appearance in the Super Bowl.

Based in a city of 100,000, the Packers are owned by 112,000 shareholders and the stock is worthless.

Packer stock has never paid a dividend, it cannot appreciate in value, and anyone who buys a share does it for sentiment, not their retirement.

It is a non-profit company.

The Green Bay Packers have won more Championships than any other NFL team and their total championships equals that of about half the league.

Packers vs. Raiders 2007photo © 2007 Chad Davis | more info (via: Wylio)
Take a good look, Timmy. They’s un-Americans….

And from David Sweet:

Though the majority of sports franchises in the United States are owned by a group of private investors, with one serving as the public face, control of the Green Bay Packers is divvied into about 4.7 million shares with no chance of anyone taking over. No person can buy more than 200,000 shares. Four stock sales have priced shares from $5 in 1923 to $200 in 1997 — the last one helped increase the capacity of Lambeau Field by 10,000 seats.

Despite their popularity, the Packers’ stock would never be touted by brokers. In 85 years, a dividend has never been paid and the stock does not appreciate in value. Shares can only be sold back to the team, and then at a fraction of the original purchase price. Who would ever assign a buy rating with that kind of historical return?

Yet shareholders would not trade their illiquid investment for anything. Who can beat the annual meeting? In 2006 and 2007, owners could gather in the summer at Lambeau Field (general admission seating) to hear about the state of the non-profit company. Concession stands were open, private boxes were toured and — even though the meeting started at 10 a.m. — Curly’s Pub didn’t close until 12 hours later. Even Warren Buffett can’t offer such amenities.

That’s some smart socialism there, buoyed by some more socialistic endeavors within the NFL. Can’t argue with success, though…

* Post-Note:
Obviously, a word like ‘socialism’ has a mighty history behind it. Many people confuse the general term with certain specifics under which it applies. When I use the term here, I’m referring to its most basic form. As Wikipedia puts it:
Socialism is an economic and political theory advocating public or common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources.

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