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Stock & Financial History

Stock certificates from the 1923, 1950 and 1997 stock sales
Of all the reasons that make the Green Bay Packers and their story so incredible and unique, the most significant is simply this: The team is literally owned by its fans.

Presently, 112,015 people (representing 4,750,934 shares) can lay claim to a franchise ownership interest.

Shares of stock include voting rights, but the redemption price is minimal, no dividends are ever paid, the stock cannot appreciate in value, and there are no season ticket privileges associated with stock ownership. No shareholder is allowed to own more than 200,000 shares, a safeguard to ensure that no one individual is able to assume control of the club.

The team has had three owners, all in its first four years, 1919-22. The first owner, Indian Packing Company, paid an unofficial purchase price of $500 to supply Curly Lambeau with uniforms and equipment. In turn, Lambeau and team manager George Calhoun called the club "Packers."

Shortly thereafter, Acme Packing Company bought Indian Packing Company and all its assets, including the fledgling team. In 1921, Lambeau convinced new owners John and Emmitt Clair to apply for membership in the new American Professional Football Association (early NFL).

With the team already headed for bankruptcy, the APFA revoked the franchise after Lambeau used illegal college players in a non-league game later that year. But before the 1922 season, Lambeau by himself reapplied and the league reinstated the Packers, with Lambeau as owner. When rain threatened to sink the team in 1922, A.B. Turnbull came to the rescue.

Turnbull, publisher of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, grocery man Lee Joannes, attorney Gerald Clifford and Dr. W. Webber Kelly cancelled Lambeau's $2,500 debt, then rallied the community behind the team. In August 1923, with more than 400 in attendance at a local Elks Club, the club was transformed into a non-profit entity, the Green Bay Packers Corporation. The five men, including Lambeau, were nicknamed the Hungry Five.

There now have been four stock drives in the 88-year history of the team. The first stock sale, which took place at that 1923 meeting, saw local merchants raise $5,000 by selling 1,000 shares for $5 apiece, with a stipulation that the purchaser also had to buy at least six season tickets.

The second, in 1935, raised $15,000 after the corporation had gone into receivership. At that point, the non-profit Green Bay Football Corporation was reorganized as the Green Bay Packers, Inc., the present company, with 300 shares of stock outstanding.

The third, in 1950, came on the heels of founder Curly Lambeau's 30-year dominion, when the club's officers arranged to amend the corporation's bylaws to permit the sale of up to 10,000 total shares of stock (opening up more than 9,500 shares for purchase), to limit the number of shares that any individual could own. The team also increased the number of directors from 15 to 25.

The response to the 1950 drive was inspiring, with people from all across Wisconsin, as well as former Green Bay residents living in other states, coming forward to buy the $25 shares of stock. Roughly $50,000 was raised in one 11-day period alone. Reportedly, one woman from a farm near Wrightstown, Wis., showed up at the team's offices with $25 worth of quarters in a match box. A total of about $118,000 was generated through this major stock sale, helping to put the Packers on a sound financial basis once again.

The fourth came late in 1997 and early in 1998. It added 105,989 new shareholders and raised more than $24 million, monies which were utilized for the Lambeau Field redevelopment project. Priced at $200 per share, fans bought 120,010 shares during the 17-week sale, which ended March 16, 1998.

With the NFL supporting the plan, the existing 1,940 shareholders overwhelmingly voted to amend the articles of the corporation on Nov. 13, 1997. The vote authorized the Packers to sell up to 1 million shares to raise funds for capital improvements, and received a 1,000 to 1 split on their original shares. Fans immediately were able to call a special toll-free number, or tap into the team's Web site for information on how to buy the 400,000 shares made available to the public.

The initial response to the recent stock offering was staggering. In the first 11 days, roughly one-third -- or $7.8 million -- of the total amount transacted was sold. Paid orders poured in at a rate of 3,500 per day during this early period, generating about $700,000 each day. The sale hit its high point during the first week of December as fans purchased shares as holiday gifts.

Shares of stock were purchased by citizens from all 50 states, in addition to fans in Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Over half (or roughly 64,300) of the new shares during the 1997-98 offering were bought by Wisconsin residents, followed by inhabitants of Illinois (9,600), Minnesota (4,300), California (3,700), Florida (2,900), Michigan (2,800), Texas (2,500) and Ohio (2,000).

Today, an annual meeting of shareholders is held in July. The event returned to Lambeau Field in 2006 after several thousand people were turned away from the 2005 meeting at the nearby Resch Center. As a means of running the corporation, a board of directors is elected by the stockholders. The board of directors in turn elect a seven-member Executive Committee (officers) of the corporation, consisting of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and three members-at-large. The president is the only officer who receives compensation.

The balance of the committee is sitting gratis. Shares of stock cannot be resold, except back to the team for a fraction of the original price. Limited transfer of shares (ie., to heirs and relatives) is permissible.

Based on the original 'Articles of Incorporation for the (then) Green Bay Football Corporation' put into place in 1923, if the Packers franchise was sold, after the payment of all expenses, any remaining funds would go to the Sullivan-Wallen Post of the American Legion in order to build "a proper soldier's memorial." This stipulation was enacted to ensure that the club remained in Green Bay and that there could never be any financial enhancement for the shareholder. The beneficiary was changed from the Sullivan-Wallen Post to the Green Bay Packers Foundation on the basis of a shareholder vote at the November 1997 meeting.
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