You had to be a True Green Packer Fan to buy a share of stock in the football club in 1998. As an investment, it rates a big, fat zero.
I and 106,000 other Packer backers plunked down $200 to help cover the multi-million dollar cost of modernizing Lambeau Field. In return we got no dividend, no possibility that the stock will appreciate in value, no preference for tickets, and not even a lottery chance at winning a parking space or a bratwurst. All we got was an annual opportunity to vote for some of the 25-person board of directors and a ticket into the annual meeting in Green Bay to cast the ballot. No other votes are taken at annual meetings.
We shareholders are very distant from the center of team operations. The 25 directors, most of whom we never heard of, appoint an executive committee from among their ranks. The executive committee appoints a club president. The president hires a general manager. The general manager hires the coach. We could write a letter stating how we think the gridiron ship should be steered, but it would be about as effective as sending off a political diatribe to the New York Times.
Packers’ administrators tried to extract the last drop of blood from the faithful during the stock sale. As soon as they got my $200, a follow-up letter offered to supply me with a frame for the certificate at an exorbitant price. I didn’t go for that one. If I had, I fantasized that the next letter would solicit several thousand dollars to build a green and gold wall to hang the frame on. That, I envisioned, might be followed by another letter offering to build me a new house around the wall for a mere three or four hundred thousand.
After congratulating myself on not falling into any follow-up traps, I encased the stock certificate in a frame we bought locally for a quarter of what the Green Bay people wanted for the job. After showing it to anyone who was willing to take a peek and bragging about it whenever possible, I decided my audience was dwindling and getting tired of my bragging and it was time to pass the certificate along for posterity.
When I called my son and offered to transfer the stock to him, he astounded me with the news that he also had bought a share, and didn’t really need another one. So I willed my share to a young man in the neighborhood who, although not a Packer fan, was a sports fanatic. At least, I thought, that would assure my stock of a good home after I departed.
While looking for a contact to change my address so I would continue to get the never-used invitation to vote for the board, I found the ownership rules included with the stock offering. I can’t transfer my share to anyone who is not an immediate family member, defined as a spouse, brother or sister, and son or daughter. I don’t have a whole flock of those, and the ones available don’t want or need my share of stock.
I remain a true green fan. Maybe I should change my will to specify that the stock certificate shall be placed in my right hand when it’s time for that final journey. I could use it to swat any Bears fans that get in my way as they head in the opposite direction.