Green Bay Packers: The Worst Stock in America?

The Green Bay Packers are the only non-profit, community-owned major league professional sports team in the United States. In December 2011, the Green Bay Packers offered anyone the ability to purchase some shares of the team. At a hefty price tag of $250/share, with no dividends issued, and no seller protection — why would anyone purchase the stock?

Before we get to some answers, it’s important to note that the shares have been selling like hotcakes:

More than 250,000 shares have been sold since the first share offering in 15 years was announced on Dec. 6.  Demand has been so great that the team expanded the offering, which runs through Feb. 29, by 30,000 shares.

Although the offering document calls the shares “common stock,” they confer almost none of the advantages of a traditional stock. The document warns that buyers “should not purchase common stock with the purpose of making a profit.” A purchase does not bump buyers higher up the Packers’ 96,000-strong waiting list for tickets or allow them to buy T-shirts and cheesehead hats at a discount. So why bother? Perhaps the pride of being a part owner of this franchise trumps all other factors: return on investment, dividends, etc. (Actually, there is one primary monetary advantage for holding Packers’ stock. Because the purchase meets a condition of worthless stock, the entire purchase may be tax deducted immediately after the shares are bought. )

What happens if the Packers are ever dissolved by the NFL?

The Packers’ Articles of Incorporation specify that if the team is dissolved, “all profits and assets” must go to community programs and charities. Until 1997, the sole beneficiary was one American Legion post in Green Bay. Since then it has been the Green Bay Packers Foundation, which benefits a number of local and state causes.

A bit more about the history of the Green Bay Packers’ stock program:

The organization previously had offerings in 1923, ’35, ’50 and ’97. The first three literally saved the franchise from bankruptcy, and proceeds from the fourth went toward the redevelopment of Lambeau Field, which was complete in 2003. The organization currently has approximately 112,000 shareholders who hold about 4,750,000 shares of stock.

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References: Green Bay Packers, WSJ.

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