The renovated — and re-renovated — Lambeau Field continues to pay dividends to the Green Bay Packers.
For the 2013-14 fiscal year, the team reported a record $321.4 million in total revenue, r5.2 percent more than last year, and $25.3 million in net income, 41 percent less than the year before.
The decline in net income was because they signed key players — notably quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews — during the fiscal year, which ends in March, and because they are beginning to absorb more than $300 million in expansion costs at Lambeau Field. Net income is less indicative of the team's financial accomplishment than what the Packers are doing with their money, and they've been doing a lot, on and off the field.
"We are investing in our team and investing in our stadium with a real priority on the game-day experience," said Mark Murphy, Packers president and CEO, who joined team executives on Thursday for their annual discussion about the previous year's financial results, two weeks ahead of the annual shareholders' meeting. The NFL's only publicly owned team also is the only one to allow a glimpse at its finances.
Total expenses for the year were $298.5 million, up $44.8 million, or 17.6 percent more than 2012-13. Of that increase, $35 million was players costs, which grew to $171 million, and $8 million was depreciation related to expansion projects.
Total revenue has increased every year since the Packers moved into the renovated Lambeau Field in 2003. Murphy said on-field success and continued support from shareholders and fans is partly responsible, as was the addition of 7,000 seats to the stadium for the 2014 season — the equivalent over a 10-game season to an 11th game — and other income-producing developments, such as the leasing of land on Lombardi Avenue for a Cabela's store.
The Packers estimate the direct and indirect impact of a home game to be $13.5 million, about a $1 million per game increase more than estimated by a study based on the 2009 season.
While taxpayers helped fund the 2003 renovation with a 0.5 percent sales tax in Brown County, the more recent renovations — $144 million to add the seats and other amenities and $166 million for Lambeau Atrium renovations — were done without taxpayer support.
"The 2003 renovation was transformative," Murphy said. "That's put us in a position financially that we can make the investments we are."
The Cabela's project is the first of several anticipated on land the Packers own along Lombardi Avenue west of the stadium, which the team calls the Titletown Entertainment District. Packers executives continue to say they don't yet know what that development will include, but said Cabela's set the standard.
"Titletown is something we continue to work on," Murphy said. "We've got stability in a number of areas. Over the next seven years, we should be able to invest in the stadium and around the stadium."
Land south of the stadium, where the Packers bought and razed about a dozen houses, will be used for parking this year.
"We don't anticipate a lot more land purchases," Murphy said. "The real focus is we have the land, what do we do with it? Anything to the south would really be for stadium or football use, not for development."
Looking far into the future, Murphy said a new indoor-practice facility to replace the Don Hutson Center could be built in the east parking lot adjacent to Lambeau Field and the new Conditioning, Rehabilitation and Instructional Center.
Continued improvement of the plaza near the expanded Oneida Nation Gate also is possible.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement with NFL players expires in seven years. Among future important signings will be extending the tenure of general manager Ted Thompson, whose contract expires in spring 2016.
"It's a top priority. Ted has been instrumental," Murphy said.
While Thompson's signing might decrease the bottom line in future years, the opening next week of the expanded Packers Pro shop will increase revenue.
"We do think there will be a several-million-dollars increase," said Paul Baniel, vice president of finance and administration. "Certainly on game days we'll be able to service more of our fans."
The team's corporate reserve fund increased $30 million to $284 million, the result of investment gains. Team treasurer Mark McMullen said the diversified investments have more than a dozen managers and are monitored daily.
"It is designed for protection, rather than trying to hit it out of the park," he said.
The guiding principal for the fund was to put aside enough money to operate for a year. It's never quite reached that goal, which itself increases, but McMullen said it is getting closer.
The Packers contributed $6 million to charitable causes during the year and added $5 million to its Packers Foundation, increasing that organization's endowment to $20 million.
— rryman@greenbaypress gazette.com and follow him on Twitter @RichRymanPG or on Facebook at Richard Ryman-Press-Gazette.
Packers financial results
The following are financial results reported by the Green Bay Packers for 2013-14 and percentage change compared to final adjusted financials for 2012-13.
• National revenue: $187.7 million, 4.3 percent increase
• Local revenue: $136.4 million, 6.4 percent increase
• Total revenue: $324.1 million, 5.2 percent increase
• Total expenses: $298.5 million, 17.6 percent increase
• Profit from operations: $25.6 million, 52.9 percent decrease
• Net income: $25.3 million, 41.3 percent decrease
Source: Green Bay Packers
• Grand opening of the expanded Packers Pro Shop at Lambeau Field. A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 9 a.m., July 17.
• Green Bay Packers annual shareholders meeting at 11 a.m. July 24 at Lambeau Field.
Other Packers news
Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy addressed issues beside the team finances during Thursday's meeting with the media.
• Murphy said cellphone coverage in Lambeau Field will be better this year. Wireless service is "absolutely a priority" and will be improved by the 2015 season, he said. The team plans on requesting bids for that project this fall.
• The Packers' most recent Lambeau Field expansion project cost $166 million. The team said 51 percent of that was spend in Brown County, 89 percent in Northeastern Wisconsin and 95 percent in Wisconsin. It said that and the previous $144 million South End Zone project created 3,000 jobs and $130 million in wages.
• While some NFL teams have severely limited the number of training camp practices open to fans, the Packers will continue to seek a balance between a coach's desire for secrecy and fans' desires to attend training camp, a Green Bay tradition.
"The challenge for us is there is only one practice per day now (because of the collective bargaining agreement). We have to have other things around to keep fans entertained and we are looking at what different things we can do," Murphy said.