Saturday, July 27, 2013

“Observations of an Owner”

by Ted Verges

As a publicly owned corporation, the Green Bay Packers are required to disclose their yearly financial condition.  They did so at the “Annual Meeting of Shareholders “ held at Lambeau Field on July 24, 2013. As an owner, I decided to attend. The following are my observations of that meeting.
            The meeting was held in Lambeau Field with approximately 12,000 people in attendance.  It was a beautiful, comfortable day. The first thing one noticed upon entering the bowl was the field did not have yard stripes painted on it!  My brother and I arrived at 10:00, an hour before the start of the meeting, and roughly 2/3 of the people were already there!  A film of the 2012 season was playing on the new, impressive video boards while the stockholders waited for the meeting to start.  The meeting lasted 1-½ hours with a little more than half the time devoted to football and the rest of the time involved various financial reports.  Ted Thompson and Mark Murphy addressed the football matters and that is where I will focus most of my report.
            Ted Thompson reviewed the 2012 season, a year in which the Packers went 11 and 5 and won the North Division.  He shared a few statistics that most might have not realized: the Packers are one of just two teams that have won 10 + games in each of the last four seasons, the Packers have been in the playoffs for 15 of the last 20 years, and the Packers have won 20 of the last 21 games at Lambeau Field. Thompson had considerable praise for Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff. Despite some front office personnel loses, that coaching staff remains intact from last year.  Thompson expects the Packers to be even better this year and those results will come from improvement of young players who were on the team last year and veteran leadership.  Thompson, and most of the other speakers, focused his comments on three themes; the long, proud history of the Packers, the disappointment in how last season ended, and the high hopes for the coming season.
            Mark Murphy then gave an extensive Presidents report. He identified the Packers mission as to win championships and keep the team in Green Bay.  One of their goals is to improve the stadium experience, which is already rated as the best in the NFL.  Additionally, Forbes magazine rated the Packers as the 8th most valuable franchise in the world! With the additional seats added to the south side of the field, Lambeau Field is now the third largest stadium in the NFL.
            Murphy briefly commented on some Packer personnel. He was very pleased to have the team sign Rodgers and Matthews to long-term contracts and praised Thompson and Russ Ball for their efforts in getting that accomplished. Murphy almost got a little emotional when praising Donald Driver and the wonderful retirement ceremony that was held for him.  Dave Robinson was recognized, and received a standing ovation, for his upcoming induction into the NFL Hall of Fame.  With his induction the Packers will now have 22 members in the Hall of Fame. That is second only to the Bears.
            Murphy then addressed the stadium improvements.  He spoke about the new north entrance. They decided to put a clock there and set the time at “Lombardi Time” which is five minutes ahead of Central Standard Time.  He thought he would get complaints from people that the clock wasn’t correct but, to this day, no one has complained about the time on that clock!  Improvements on the south side include nearly 8,000 seats, most of which are theatre type seats with backs on them, a roof over many of those seats, a standing area, and a wonderful new, video screen. He then identified future plans for the atrium. They will triple the size of the Pro Shop, add a new restaurant, and build a new, much larger Hall of Fame.
            Murphy concluded by addressing some league issues. The health and safety of the players has become a priority, as has dealing with some lawsuits from former players.  Players now will be required to wear knee and thigh pads. The league wants to keep ticket prices at a reasonable amount and, at the same time, improve the stadium game day experience. Murphy ended his remarks by saying he is very optimistic for the Packers future because of all the good people that work there, not of the least of which is the best quarterback in the NFL!
            I thought Murphy represented himself very well. He is very personable with a good, natural sense of humor.  He appears to be without ego and is quick to credit others.
            Various members of the Board of Directors presented financial reports. Probably the highlight was the fact that the organization set a profit record in 2012 with an operating profit of 51.4 million.  They did so primarily by keeping their expenses down. They also increased the Corporate Reserve by 5 % to 251 million.  That is money designed to insure the future existence of the Green Bay Packer organization.  The Packer Foundation, which addresses charitable requests up to $7,000, distributed a record $525,000 to area charities last year. The Community Relations Department made donations to 11,000 different groups last year as well as arranging 700 player appearances.

            So that’s this year’s stockholder meeting. I suspect that many readers are “owners” and I hope you enjoyed this report of your meeting.  There was lots of optimism at this meeting and, as many speakers concluded, “GO PACKERS!

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