Owners of the Green Bay Packers filled the east side stands of Lambeau Field and sat for about two hours, hearing committee reports on board member nominations, finances, community outreach and yes, a little football. It was their reward for shelling out $250.00 last year to buy a share of stock in the only non-profit franchise in professional sports. The annual stockholders meeting is one of the most unique events in sports and a crowd estimated at around 13,000 showed up, much smaller than anticipated after the stock sale delivered about 250,000 new shareholders and 64 million dollars. They did get to see the fruits of their checks. The brand new Mitsubishi Electric, Diamond Vision scoreboards in each end zone were up and running. The huge, hi-definition screens drew plenty of oohs and ahhs, showing the 2011 team highlight video in advance of the meeting and a couple of special video presentations during the event. The south end zone upper deck construction also towered above the NFL shrine. That will add 7000 seats and an even more imposing prescence when completed in time for the 2013 season.
General Manager Ted Thompson presented the first report, to a standing ovation, a far cry from the days when he was a wanted man for that quarterback trade in 2008. A Super Bowl victory followed by a 15-1 season helped turn that tide. Thompson delivered a bland state of the team address, even joking about his unwillingness to be forthcoming. There were changes in the personel department this off-season with Reggie McKenzie and Shawn Herock heading out to Oakland and some coaching staff realignment to talk about. The GM liked his draft and reiterated his goal to win now and plan for the future. He wasn't about to detail how he plans to ressurect the last ranked defense in the league and never mentioned pending off-field troubles with the suspensions of Mike Neal and Anthony Hargrove coming as of opening day.
President Mark Murphy gave the longest report, outlining how last year's 10 year collective bargaining agreement will help stabilize the league and the Packers, despite nagging litigation this summer over bounties in New Orleans and retirees lingering health issues, namely concussions. Murphy announced the hiring of Ed Policy as the team's new vice president and legal counsel, replacing Jason Wied who resigned last year. He also saluted his long time secretary, Margaret Myers who will retire August first. While Murphy showed off the new stadium additions, he also said a second phase will involve the moving of the team's Pro Shop, which churned out 54 million in sales the last two years, and Curley's Pub. The arrival of Cabella's next year will spark the development of the Titletown District, the strip of land from the stadium west to highway 41. The Packers are still working on a comprehensive plan for the acrerage they've purchased over the past few years.
The Packers Foundation delivered another two hundred thousand dollars plus in grants to 79 organizations last year and the Community Relations Committee reported on the success of more than 80 team related events, from the Tailgate Tour to Mike McCarthy's golf outing which raised $270,000.00 for the UW Madison Children's hospital in a single day.
As for the money, the Packers are swimming in it these days. Executive committee treasurer Mark McMullen reported on the records in total revenue, earnings and net profit, at 43 million, more than the last three fiscal years combined. McMullen said the Lambeau renovation and the lastest additions has the stadium at more than a one billion dollar investment. The team's preservation fund has swelled to 239 million dollars. Times are good at Lambeau, just ask the shareholders, or the Ashwaubenon Public Safety Department, which spent the morning ticketing dozens of cars for on street parking during a Lambeau Field event, mine included, to the tune of 50 bucks each. With the formalities now out of the way, believe me, I'm ready for some football.