Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Stock Certificates History

 
On the eve of the 2016 Green Bay Packers Shareholders’ Meeting, we thought we’d post photos of stock certificates from each of the team’s sales through their long and storied history. These are the stock certificates as displayed in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame at Lambeau Field. Above, we see a certificate from the first stock sale in 1923, where local merchants raised $5,000 by selling 1,000 shares for $5 apiece, with a stipulation that the purchaser also had to buy at least six season tickets.

The second stock sale, in 1935, raised $15,000 after the corporation had gone into receivership. At that point, the nonprofit Green Bay Football Corporation was reorganized as the Green Bay Packers, Inc., the present company, with 300 shares of stock outstanding. 

The third stock sale, in 1950, came on the heels of Curly Lambeau’s 30-year dominion, when the club’s officers arranged to amend the corporation’s bylaws to permit the sale of up to 10,000 total shares of stock (opening up more than 9,500 shares for purchase), to limit the number of shares that any individual could own. The team also increased the number of directors from 15 to 25.

The response to the 1950 drive was inspiring, with people from all across Wisconsin, as well as former Green Bay residents living in other states, coming forward to buy the $25 shares of stock. Roughly $50,000 was raised in one 11-day period alone. Reportedly, one woman from a farm near Wrightstown, Wis., showed up at the team’s offices with $25 worth of quarters in a match box. A total of about $118,000 was generated through this major stock sale, helping to put the Packers on a sound financial basis once again. 

The fourth stock sale came late in 1997 and early in 1998. It added 105,989 new shareholders and raised more than $24 million, monies which were utilized for the Lambeau Field redevelopment project. Priced at $200 per share, 120,010 shares were purchased by fans during the 17-week sale, which ended March 16, 1998. This is the sale in which we bought our shares.

With the NFL supporting the plan, the existing 1,940 shareholders overwhelmingly voted to amend the articles of the corporation on Nov. 13, 1997. The vote authorized the Packers to sell up to one million shares to raise funds for capital improvements, and existing stockholders received a 1,000-to-1 split on their original shares. Fans immediately were able to call a special toll-free number, or tap into the team’s website for information on how to buy the 400,000 shares made available to the public.

In the first 11 days, roughly one-third — or $7.8 million — of the total amount transacted was sold. Orders came in at a rate of 3,500 per day during this early period, generating about $700,000 each day.

Shares of stock were purchased by citizens from all 50 states, in addition to fans in Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More than half (53.6%) of the shares were bought by Wisconsin residents, followed by inhabitants of Illinois (8.0%), Minnesota (3.6%), California (3.1%), Florida (2.4%), Michigan (2.3%), Texas (2.1%) and Ohio (1.7%). 

The fifth stock sale occurred from December 2011 through February 2012 and saw more than 250,000 people purchase over 269,000 shares priced at $250 each and net more than $64 million. In an overwhelming response, fans purchased more than 185,000 shares in the first two days alone. In late December 2011, the team made an additional 30,000 shares available beyond the initial 250,000 to accommodate demand. Proceeds are going toward the 2011-2013 expansion of Lambeau Field.

For the first time, fans in Canada were able to purchase (2,000 did so) and joined fans from 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in supporting the team. Wisconsin residents purchased 28.2% of the shares, followed by those in California (7.7%), Illinois (6.6%), Texas (4.8%) and Minnesota (3.7%). Approximately 99% of the shares were purchased online.

Today, an annual meeting of shareholders is held each July. The event returned to Lambeau Field in 2006 after several thousand people were turned away from the 2005 meeting at the nearby Resch Center. As a means of running the corporation, a board of directors is elected by the shareholders. The board of directors in turn elects a seven-member Executive Committee (officers) of the corporation, consisting of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and three members-at-large. The president is the only officer who receives compensation. The balance of the committee is sitting gratis.

Shares of stock cannot be resold, except back to the team for a fraction of the original price. Limited transfer of shares (i.e., to heirs and relatives) is permissible.

*Information supplied by the 2015 Green Bay Packers Media Guide.

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