Green Bay Packers to sell stock to fans

@CNNMoney November 9, 2011: 3:52 PM ET
Green Bay Packers to sell stock to fans next week

The Green Bay Packers are ready to offer stock to their fans next week.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The defending Super Bowl champions Green Bay Packers are planning to sell stock to the public next week, the team's first stock offering since 1997.

But purchasers will know going in it's a lousy investment, despite the team's terrific record so far this year, due to unique restrictions on the shares of the not-for-profit company.

The would-be investors aren't allowed to sell their shares, which likely will cost more than $200 each. They can only transfer them to immediate family members. They won't get a dividend. There's no way to buy enough shares to own a significant stake in the team, which is run by a board of directors.

But experts in the field of team sales say demand for shares is likely to outstrip supply, due to the team's loyal and widespread fan base.

"It's all about pride of ownership. It's a great vanity purchase, as a lot of sports teams are, but at a much lower price point," said Sal Galatioto of Galatioto Sports Partners, one of the leading firms involved in the sale of sports franchises. "It's a great thing to hang on the wall."

The Packers, the only undefeated National Football League team at the halfway point of his season, plan to use the funds raised by the sale to make about $130 million in improvements to their stadium, Lambeau Field, including adding about 6,600 seats to the south end zone. The improvements are expected to be complete in time for the 2013 season.

The shareholder fans will get a stock certificate and can log onto the team's website to buy merchandise reserved for shareholders only. And they also can attend an annual meeting and get quarterly reports on the team's operations.

There are currently 4.8 million shares in the Packers owned by 112,158 different shareholders. Given the estimated $1.1 billion value of the team, according to Forbes magazine, the industry-recognized source of team valuations, each share is worth about $229. Shares cost $200 in the 1997 offering.

The team is the only publicly owned franchise in the league, which has rules preventing any other team from being owned by a company, whether publicly or privately held.

But there is an exception for Green Bay, which plays in the smallest market of any U.S. sports team and has been owned by its fans since 1923. This year's offering will mark the fifth time the Packers have offered shares to the public.

A letter that the team's attorneys sent to the state of Utah division of securities about the offering said the price might be more than $250 this time, and that the sale is expected on or around Nov. 15. Businesses might be able to own shares for the first time in this offering. A Packers spokesman said the team has no comment on sales plans beyond that filing.

Galatioto said even though the offering will raise a significant amount of money at little cost to the team, it's not an idea likely to spread to other sports franchises.

"Teams are loath to give their financials out," he said. "Yes, it's free money, but with that comes annual meetings, quarterly reports and having to put up with people looking at your numbers. Leagues aren't going to like the idea and most teams will feel it's not worth it." To top of page

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