I’ve never been very keen on American football; it always seems to take more time for the players to talk about what they’re going to do next than it takes for them to actually do it. However I did watch quite a few games on TV when I lived in the USA and learned a few things about the Green Bay Packers. I knew that they are one of the most successful football teams in America, they play in green and gold, their fans are called cheeseheads and all their games are sell outs. I now know that they’ve sold out all their season tickets since 1960 and have over 100,000 on the waiting list to buy any season tickets that become available.
I’ve recently learned something else about them: they are the only non-profit, community-owned professional sports team in the USA. All the other professional teams are businesses with owners who can do what they like with them, including moving them from one end of the country to the other. The Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team started out in Brooklyn, New York. Their owner moved them to Los Angeles in 1957 when he couldn’t get permission to build a new stadium in Brooklyn. That’s a distance of more than 2,000 miles.
When the Packers were founded in 1919 they were set up in a way that ensured that they could never be moved away from Green Bay. Their website states that they “are founded on two principles: football and a commitment to the community.” They are owned by thousands of shareholders but no dividends are ever paid and there is a limit to the number of shares that any one person can hold. So nobody can gain a controlling interest. Their Articles of Incorporation state that the franchise can never be sold for profit.
The Packers success also rests on the structure of the National Football League. Unlike the Premiership and Football League in this country, there is a cap on how much teams in the NFL can spend.
To read more about the Packers, look at the case study on the Supporters Direct site.