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Public Owership of the Packers

1/30/02: Since this coming Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, InfoFax thought we'd have some fun with the following commentary from Jim Hightower on the Green Bay Packers. This is particularly on target when seen in relation to the ever spiraling costs of Dolphins, Heat, and Marlins games with owners often appearing only marginally committed to our community. Enjoy.

"The real champs of the 1997 Super Bowl - winning Green Bay Packers are not Brett Favre, Desmond Howard, and Reggie White - terrific as they are on the field-but the team owners.

The Packers are totally unique in the NFL. Instead of being owned by Greedheads like Art Modell, this team is owned by "Cheeseheads" - the people of Green Bay themselves. With foam "cheese" wedges atop their heads and faces painted with the teams yellow-and-green colors, the diehard Packer fans might appear to outsiders as a bunch of North Country yahoos, but any given one of them could be a Packer proprietor. Some 1,900 of the locals, including truckers, barkeeps, merchants, and bus drivers, own a piece of the Pack, organized back in 1923 as a community-owned, nonprofit company. The stockholders draw no profit, and the locally elected board of directors that operates the team is unpaid, but all concerned draw great pleasure from knowing that the Packers are theirs.

What a difference ownership makes. Not a dime needs to be spent to hype up fan support, since the team literally belongs to them. The town of 96,000 built Lambeau Stadium, owns it, operates it, and fills each of the 60,790 seats in it for every home game-forty straight years of sellouts, whether the team is winning or not, and the season ticket waiting list has 20,000 names on it.

Get this: No ticket costs more than $28, no parking space is more than $7, there is free parking within four blocks of the stadium, and on those blustery, bitterly cold snowy game days, homeowners let fans park in their garages.

The Packers, which began as the team of the Acme Packing Company, is a total community enterprise. Charities run the stadium's concessions, bringing in volunteers who cook bratwurst and pour the beer, earning some $400,000 a year for their groups. Off-duty police provide stadium security, and are paid overtime by the team. If an overnight storm dumps snow into the seats and aisles, locals simply show up at Lambeau Stadium early with shovels and other tools and - without being asked, much less paid - clear the snow before the crowds arrive.

Green Bay fans and citizens never have to worry that some pirate of an owner is going to hijack the Pack and haul their team to Los Angeles or any other big-city market, because Green Bay is the team. It stands as a shining model of how fans in other cities could get control of their teams and stop corporate rip-offs.

This is why the other owners in the National Football League have teamed up to pass a rule specifically banning any future NFL team from being community-owned."