Bad economy? Not if you ask the Packers

Economists will tell you consumer behavior is usually measured in things like retail sales or home buying. There have been mixed signals in recent times about how we’re feeling about the economy.

However, there’s always been a constant when it comes to spending in Wisconsin: the Green Bay Packers are worth a significant amount of disposable income.

Further evidence of that was provided by the team this morning when officials announced its stock sale to help finance a Lambeau Field expansion “far exceeded our expectations.” More than 268,000 team shares were sold at $250 apiece over the last three months, raising around $67 million of the $143 million needed for the Lambeau project.

Team officials had budgeted far less from the fans. As the Packers website reports:

“For budgeting purposes, we looked at what we did last time and estimated conservatively at $25 million,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said, referring to the 1997 stock sale’s proceeds. “When you step back from it, it far exceeded our expectations.”

In the first two days of the sale in early December, 185,000 shares were sold, as the convergence of the Christmas season and the team’s undefeated record at the time produced immediate demand. In the final weeks of the sale, regulatory clearance was gained to sell stock in Canada, leading to roughly 2,000 shares purchased across the border.

“It’s a tribute to the organization, the support of our fans, and the uniqueness of the Packers,” Murphy said. “I think that really appeals to people. You can’t say enough about how appreciative we are for the support.”

Approximately half of the shares were bought in Wisconsin. There are proud Packers fans in Illinois as residents there bought 8.5 percent of the stock and Minnesota citizens accounted for 5 percent of the sale. Courtesy: Brian Masck/Allsport

The project will add 6,700 seats to the south stands and two large video boards. The stock sale added around a quarter of a million new shareholders to the team and its total is now 360,000.

The rest of the money for the project will come from a loan the team’s taking out, a user fee on new season-ticket holders and a loan from the NFL.

For a state that witnessed its share of tough stadium political decisions (read: Miller Park in the mid-90′s) and a nation that continuously sees teams angling for new stadiums (Sacramento–NBA, and the Twin Cities–NFL), it’s refreshing to see a major renovation funded without public angst.

Not sure what the message is here for the rest of the country as it relates to stadium economics, but it seems like there should be one.

Maybe I can go ask one of those economists :)

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