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Green Bay Packers Plan for Rare Stock Sale

The Green Bay Packers, the only publicly-owned sports team in the U.S., will sell stock for only the fifth time in the organization’s 93-year history next week.

Wisconsin based law firm Foley & Lardner outlined the terms of this year’s sale in a letter to the State of Utah Department of Commerce. As a result, shares can be sold on or around Nov. 15 and the firm said they’ll go for $250 per share.

The Packers hope the sale will help finance a $140 million renovation, which will add two gates and 6,600 seats in Lambeau Field. What is not made in the stock sale will be financed by debt.

The Packers last sold stock in 1997 to raise funds for a massive renovation of the 54-year-old stadium. Shares were sold for $200 and the team raised $24 million.

The Packers want to hold the stock sale before Christmas for obvious reasons, but the organization is not concerned about raising enough money. The Packers have issued five stock sales in its history, the success of which has been largely due to the rabidity and size of the team’s fan base.

The Packers have a famously long waiting list for season tickets, with some people facing a wait of more than 100 years for tickets. The town of Green Bay is the N.F.L.’s smallest market but the team, which won last year’s Super Bowl and is the lone undefeated team this year at 9-0, is one of the league’s top ten grossing franchises.

Green Bay first sold stock in 1923 when Curly Lambeau incorporated with local businessmen and sold 1,000 shares for $5. Without the innovative fundraising, the Packers probably would not have survived.

Shareholders have no real executive power. The Packers operate with a C.E.O. and president who are elected by an executive board. Shareholders have a small role in electing the members of the board.

But being a publicly owned sports franchise in an era of lockouts, greed and many billions of dollars exchanging hands is a benefit in itself. Not to mention that a certificate of ownership in the team, particularly in Green Bay, elicits the same envy as a golden ticket to Wonka's chocolate factory.

By contrast, the neighboring rival Minnesota Vikings, which the Packers defeated handily on Monday, are in the midst of a struggle with the city to build a new stadium once its lease on the Metrodome runs out this year. More than two years into negations, relocation to a new city is as much an option for the Vikings as building a new stadium in Minneapolis.

Lambeau Field currently holds 70,000 people but it needs to be renovated to accommodate the growing demand for tickets. The team wants to find a balance between expanding the stadium and honoring the historical features that make it unique.

Today, about 112,000 people hold 4.75 million shares of Packers stock.

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