Just in time for the holidays and a potential undefeated season, the publicly owned Green Bay Packers are offering stock shares to fans for the first time since 1997.
Fans who want to own a piece of the Packers need only pay $250 (plus a $25 handling fee) for one share of the team. Team president Mark Murphy said the team hopes to raise $22 million from the sale, though a full order of the 250,000 shares at $275 a pop would generate nearly $70 million. The money will help defray the cost of a $143 million renovation of Lambeau Field that calls for 6,700 new seats, high-definition screens and a new entrance.
Stock in the Packers isn't an investment. It doesn't rise or fall like something you'd buy from a broker. Shelling out the money brings little more than a certificate of ownership, nominal voting rights and the ability to tell your friends that you own a sliver of one of the most storied organizations in professional sports.
The purchase, of course, comes with a bevy of rules and restrictions. The website packersowner.com has a PDF that includes 12 pages of rules and restrictions and a four-page application for the stock purchase. Some of the rules wouldn't matter to the gift-giving crowd. It's highly doubtful, for instance, that anyone buying a stock certificate for a family member is going to own another professional football franchise. But buried in the fine print are some interesting restrictions and the steep fine that could accompany them:
The NFL Rules prohibit conduct by shareholders of NFL member clubs that is detrimental to the NFL, including [...] publicly criticizing any NFL member club or its management, employees.
If the Commissioner of the NFL (the "Commissioner") decides that a shareholder of an NFL member club has been guilty of conduct detrimental to the welfare of the NFL then, among other things, the Commissioner has the authority to fine such shareholder in an amount not in excess of $500,000 and/or require such shareholder to sell his or her stock. In addition, if the Commissioner determines that a shareholder has bet on the outcome or score of any game played in the NFL, among other things, then the Commissioner may fine such shareholder in an amount not in excess of $5,000 and/or require such shareholder to sell his or her stock.
Now, I highly doubt Roger Goodell is going to care if you get Packers stock as a Christmas gift and then post on Facebook about how much you don't like Tim Tebow. And that Bodog account you may or may not have isn't going to lead to a Black Sox scandal. Don't say you weren't warned, though.
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