Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Own The Packers - And Maybe You Do, Too...

Something bothered me when I got my Packers proxy material and shareholders meeting notice in the mail yesterday. The return address, top left corner of the envelope next to the big circled “G” logo of the Packers, is a post office box in SAINT PAUL MINNESOTA.

Minnesota? Can’t the team I own, 12-time World Champions and 3-time Super Bowl Champions, find a company in Wisconsin to handle its investor relations? Even Boston, where so many huge financial services companies are chartered, would be preferable to some outfit up there in Viking-land.

The notice enclosed told me how to vote my (our) proxy and how to get free tickets to the annual meeting, at Lambeau Field, on the 30th of July. Among other things, they’re going to show the shareholders the new Ray Nitschke practice field. Name another pro sports franchise that sends its “owners” tickets to the annual meeting. You can’t.

As any good ‘sconnie knows, the Packers are a publicly-owned corporation. Back in 1997, my wife and I, and about 112 thousand other folks, bought shares of the Packers. We paid 200 bucks a share, and the stock has not returned one cent in dividends since we bought it; it hasn’t appreciated one cent in value; and if I decide to dump it, I can only sell it back to the team, at a hugely discounted price.

But I wouldn’t trade or sell my Packers stock for anything or anybody.

By any measure, the Packers are one of the most successful franchises in pro sports. The recently-renovated Lambeau Field (which is why we bought the stock back in ‘97 - to help pay for the upgrades) is sold out essentially forever. The waiting list for season tickets is 75 thousand names long. The Packers perform in the top ranks financially; every game is a sellout and the average game attendance is 97%.

My dad, mom, grandpa, and I were at the Ice Bowl. I have the ticket stub to prove it. My dad bought season tickets in 1957 -four seats together in section 9, row 58. It was so cold at that game that mom went down to the car at halftime and listened on the radio while my dad, his dad, and I toughed it out, only to be rewarded by having the best seats in the house to see that famous block that Jerry Kramer put on Jethro Pugh to spring Bart Starr for the winning touchdown.

So my Packers roots go pretty deep. And I’m darn proud to be one of the 112 thousand Packers shareholders. And I’m fiercely proud of the team and I treasure its history. I bleed green and gold. But please, Mr. Murphy: could you find a company in Wisconsin to handle our shareholder services?

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