One of the most significant — but most overlooked — stories of the week comes from Green Bay, where the fifth stock offering in team history resulted in the purchase of 185,000 shares in only two days.
At $250 per share, that’s $46.25 million. For nothing.
OK, it’s not really nothing. The purchaser gets a certificate of ownership of a share of stock. But the Packers have emphasized that the stock “does not constitute an investment in ‘stock’ in the common sense of the term,” and that the buyer of the stock should not expect to receive a dividend or otherwise make a profit.
As many have suggested, the Packers’ ability to sell stock amounts to a license to print money. Though purchasers receive an annual invitation to the shareholders meeting at Lambeau Field and the perpetual ability to legitimately say “we” when referring to the team, it’s a glorified piece of memorabilia.
Of course, in this age of free agency, it’s a far safer investment than an authentic jersey.
The rules permit the Packers to sell “stock” because the Packers already had been selling stock before the league implemented a rule against such transactions. And despite the Packers’ ability to raise so much money so quickly by selling fancy pieces of paper with embossed logos, the league does not plan to revise its rules to permit teams to shave off a small slice of the franchise in order to create the ultimate fan club.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT via email on Saturday that the league is not considering any changes to the rules, and that the situation remains unique to the Packers.
Still, teams should consider coming up with similar devices for persuading fans to cough up money for, essentially, nothing. Since the Packers’ stock isn’t stock in the common sense of the term, common sense suggests that teams could come up with a similar label for the privilege of purchasing a sheet of paper that declares a special devotion to the team.