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Mike Vandermause column: Fans aren't only ones eager for stock-owner bragging rights

Dec. 7, 2011
 
Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy, right, and vice president of finance Paul Baniel unveil the new stock certificate during a news conference at the Lambeau Field, Tuesday, December 6, 2011.
Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy, right, and vice president of finance Paul Baniel unveil the new stock certificate during a news conference at the Lambeau Field, Tuesday, December 6, 2011. / File/Press-Gazette

Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Ryan Pickett had to take care of some important business after practice Wednesday afternoon.

Pickett had just received the paperwork to purchase Packers stock and said he was planning to buy shares for himself, his wife and five children, which works out to a cool $1,775.

“You know what, I’m about to sign,” Pickett said. “I’m about to go do it now.”

Count Packers players among the thousands who have gotten swept up in the craze to buy a piece of the team, even if the $250-per-share asking price, plus $25 handling fee, brings few tangible benefits.

Shares can’t be resold, there are no dividends and the value never will increase. Buyers are paying 275 bucks a pop for a fancy piece of paper that for all intents and purposes is worthless.

Yet there has been no hesitation on the part of Packers fans to display their allegiance by reaching deep into their pockets.

On the first day of the stock sale Tuesday, team President Mark Murphy said the Packers sold 28,000 shares in the first 2 hours and 20 minutes. That’s a whopping $7 million, or $50,000 per minute.

If that isn’t a license to print money, what is?

“Anywhere else I’d be surprised, but in Green Bay, no, I’m not surprised,” Pickett said. “This is how much fans love the team and want to be part of this great tradition, so I’m not surprised that it’s happening here.”

Receiver Greg Jennings said at a corporate luncheon Tuesday he wasn’t planning to buy stock, but when he returned home, his wife, Nicole, told him: “Babe, by the way, (we) bought three (shares)” — one for each of the couple’s three daughters.

“No tax write-offs or anything, you just kind of have taken one on the chin,” Jennings said with a wide smile.

But he now seems convinced it’s a good investment. “It’s great to be part of something special, obviously the history of this organization, this franchise,” Jennings said. “My daughters will have something that they can reflect on and have for a lifetime.”

That seems to be the sentiment motivating Packers backers around the country to plunk down serious cash for the privilege of being part of the only community-owned team in professional sports.

“It’s kind of like how we can travel anyplace in the country and we’ve got a ton of Packers fans at every venue,” said punter Tim Masthay, who along with his expectant wife is considering buying a share for their first child. “It’s just like that, there’s such a following and such a passion about the organization that it’s not surprising.”

Critics have accused stock buyers of being suckers, and the team of being greedy, but those arguments simply don’t hold water.

The Packers will use the money to expand and upgrade Lambeau Field, the most historic football venue in the country.

Stock owners, meanwhile, feel like they’re part of the team. All shareholders receive tickets to the annual meeting at the stadium, vote for the team’s board of directors and are privy to special “owner’s only” apparel.

Perhaps the greatest benefit is the bragging rights that a stock certificate will generate. That alone makes its value priceless.

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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