Packers’ record-setting financial run continues

Richard Ryman
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The Green Bay Packers discussed their financial report with the media in advance of next week's shareholder meeting.

If this is beginning to sound like a broken record, it is. The Green Bay Packers again reported record national and local revenues and some other all-time highs as well.

The NFL’s smallest-market team said revenue last year totaled $375.7 million, 16 percent more than the year before. The Packers got $226 million in national revenue, mostly the result of new NFL television contracts coming into play, and $149 million in local revenue, more than half of the $12.9 million increase generated by the expanded Packers Pro Shop, which opened one year ago. National revenue was 20.6 percent higher and local revenue increased 9.4 percent.

Total revenue has increased every year since the Packers moved into the renovated Lambeau Field in 2003. Team president and CEO Mark Murphy credited on-field success, fan and shareholder support and the popularity of the NFL with continued financial improvement. Most recently, annual season-ticket increases and the addition of 7,000 seats to Lambeau Field in 2013 also helped drive the numbers.

Results like that allow the team to continue to invest in Lambeau Field and surrounding areas, Murphy said Monday during the team’s annual discussion of its financial results ahead of its annual shareholders’ meeting scheduled for 11 a.m. July 28 in the stadium.

Those investments will include renovation of Lambeau Field’s luxury suites and club seats during the next two years.

Total expenses for the year were $336.3 million, up 12.7 percent and also a record. Player costs, which can be cyclical, based on when top-tier players are signed to new contracts, were down 12.3 percent, but real estate developments costs, depreciation related to expansion projects and a league assessment for debt refinancing drove expenses higher.

The Packers spent $53.7 million buying 64 acres east, west and south of Lambeau Field, most of it in the last four years.

“We are investing in players, in the team and in the stadium so Lambeau Field continues to be state of the art,” Murphy said. “Part of it’s been trying to increase our home-field advantage, but also improving the fan experience.”

Net income was $29.2 million, compared to $25.3 million last year, but net income is not a significant number, because the money stays with the team and goes back into operations. The Packers are the only publicly-owned team in U.S. professional sports, but its stock isn’t publicly traded and its 363,948 shareholders don’t receive dividends.

The 2003 renovation of Lambeau Field, which added the Atrium to the stadium, cost $295 million and was supported by a 0.5 percent sales tax, which will end in September. That project set the team up to do another $312 million in improvements over the last four years without public tax money.

The Packers aren’t done upgrading the stadium.

Murphy said the $55 million renovation of suites and club seats will include windows that open, full-size refrigerators, better concessions equipment and flow, smart TVs and new furniture. About 240,000 square feet will be included in the renovation.

Murphy said the most frequent complaint from suite holders is that the windows won’t open. Work will take place during the next two off-seasons, the west side first.

The team contributed $3 million to the Green Bay Packers Foundation, bringing that group’s endowment to just more than $22 million. The foundation made $1.1 million in grants in 2014, including $250,000 to Achieve Brown County and $250,000 to five hunger-relief groups, including $50,000 to Gannett Wisconsin Media's Stock the Shelves program.

The Packers organization made $7 million in donations to the community last year, including in-kind contributions, Murphy said.

The team’s reserve fund is $280 million, slightly less than last year, when it was $284 million.

Murphy said the team is nearing an announcement on its development plans west of Lambeau Field. The team acquired and cleared property along Lombardi Avenue between South Ridge Road and Marlee Lane. It plans commercial development to provide it with non-football sources of income.

Cabela’s is its only development so far. The outdoor sporting goods store drew 2.8 million visitors last year and is fourth in total revenue for the company, Murphy said.

“We are continuing to look at ways we can grow revenue. We don’t want to do it on the backs of our season-ticket holders,” he said. “One way is to attract more visitors.”

Murphy said Lambeau Field stadium tours set a record in June, which normally is a good month anyway. He pointed out that they did so without the Lambeau Field restaurant or Packers Hall of Fame being open. The grand opening for 1919 Kitchen & Tap is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday. The new Hall of Fame will open later this summer.

The team’s successful season last year — it was 12-4 and made it to the NFC championship game, where it lost to Seattle 28-22 in overtime — and excitement over Brett Favre’s induction into the Packers Hall of Fame on Saturday, may have driven the higher numbers, Murphy said.

— Contact and follow him on Twitter @RichRymanPG or on Facebook at Richard Ryman-Press-Gazette. Or call him at (920) 431-8342.

Packers finances

The following are financial results reported by the Green Bay Packers for 2014-15 and percentage changes compared to 2013-14:

• National revenue: $226.4 million, up 20.6 percent

• Local revenue: 149.3 million, up 9.4 percent

• Total revenue: $375.5 million, up 15.9 percent

• Player costs: $150 million, down 12.3 percent

• Total expenses: $336.3 million, up 12.7 percent

• Profit from operations: $39.4 million, up 53.9 percent

• Net income: $29.2 million, up 15.3 percent

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