GREEN BAY - Green and gold suits the Green Bay Packers, who reported another year of record revenue.
The NFL's smallest-market team said Friday that revenue last year totaled $408.7 million, 8.4 percent more than the prior year's record $377.2 million. Revenue has increased every year since the renovation of Lambeau Field in 2003.
"I see a couple keys for the financial position," said Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy. "The continued, consistent success (on the field) has been helpful for us, as well as the popularity of not only the Packers, but the league."
Murphy attributed national TV contracts and improvements in Lambeau Field Atrium businesses, especially the Packers Pro Shop, as revenue drivers. Ticket price increases for the 80,000-seat Lambeau Field, one of the largest stadiums in the league, also contributed.
The Packers are the only fan-owned team in U.S. professional sports and the only one to publicly report its finances. Though the team curtailed in recent years the amount of information it provides, the report is the best look at the operations of an NFL team.
The Packers have 363,948 shareholders. Shares are not traded and rarely sold. The last sale was in 2012 to help fund the south end zone expansion.
The team reported record profit from operations of $75 million and record net income of $48.9 million. Total revenue, rather than net income, is the more significant number in Packers finances because profit isn't paid out as dividends and doesn't affect stock price. All money, whether profit or not, goes back into the team or community. It does show, however, that they are keeping expenses under control.
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The Packers reported national income of $222.6 million, most of that from the NFL's national TV contracts, which are shared equally among the 32 teams. National revenue also includes road-game revenue sharing and other income, such as from NFL media operations. Murphy said TV revenue will rise about 5 percent a year under the contract.
Local income totaled $186.2 million, and includes all game-day revenue, local broadcast fees, sponsorships and atrium business revenue, including the Packers Pro Shop, which contributed tens of millions of dollars. The Packers won't disclose how much, but Murphy said "the last two years had pretty significant increases in the Pro Shop."
Some increases are the result of the latest 10-year collective bargaining agreement, which allowed long-term contracts and sponsorship deals at both the national and local levels, Murphy said.
Packers ninth in NFL
The Packers have been ranked ninth in the NFL in total revenue for three consecutive years, but Murphy said if revenue had been 1 percent less, the team would have ranked 13th. Rankings for last year will be available in the fall.
Despite market size, the Packers made the NFL playoffs a team-record seventh consecutive time last year.
"We compete with billionaires and compete very well," said Mark McMullen, treasurer for the Packers.
Total expenses for the year were $333.7 million, $4.1 million less than last year. Paul Baniel, vice president of finance and administration, said the prior year's expenses included $20 million in one-time costs. Ongoing expenses increased nearly that amount last year, split mostly between increased player costs and increased expenses related to a growing Packers Pro Shop operation.
Murphy said $367 million in investment in Lambeau Field during the past five years continues to draw fans to the stadium year-round. Improvements include the expansion of the south end zone, with its 7,000 seats, 1919 Kitchen & Tap restaurant and a new Packers Hall of Fame. Murphy said restaurant and Hall of Fame business show positive trends, though they haven't been open long enough to make comparisons. But the team hosted a record 175,000 people taking stadium tours during the fiscal year, which ended March 31.
"To be honest, I don't know what it is. Normally you would think of tours being tied into the Hall of Fame, but the Hall of Fame didn't open until August," Murphy said.
Positive media helps
He speculated that ongoing positive national coverage of Lambeau Field and the Packers as well as elements of the south end zone expansion that are popular with fans keep people coming to Green Bay.
The team's reserve fund took another market hit last year, falling to $275 million from $280 million in 2014-15 and $284 million the year before that. McMullen said it likely will suffer another blow from the decision of British voters this week to exit the European Union. Markets across the world fell Friday on the unexpected news. McMullen said the reserve fund is distributed among numerous managers and is defensively invested.
The club contributed $5 million to the Packers Foundation endowment fund, which is just short of $25 million. The foundation made $1.1 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and projects last year.
The team said its charitable impact last year was more than $6.5 million.
Expenses related to the Titletown District development will begin to show up in the report when tenants begin operations, Baniel said.
Titletown District underway
Titletown District is the Packers' commercial/residential/recreational project immediately west of Lambeau Field. Initial investment in the 35-acre project, including land acquisition and infrastructure improvements by the Packers, is estimated at $120 million to $130 million. Total team investment is about $65 million to date, with the balance provided by tenants.
Two tenants, Lodge Kohler hotel and Hinterland Brewery, have begun construction. Bellin Health, which will build a sports medicine clinic, is expected to begin construction in August. All are expected to open before the beginning of the 2017 NFL season.
Phase 1 of Titletown District consists of 21 acres, including 6 acres of a 10-acre public park and plaza. Detailed plans for the plaza may be released in August, Murphy said.
The district will have 180,000 square feet of additional commercial space along Lombardi Avenue and Marlee Lane, and as many as 70 townhouses along Brookwood Drive.