As a multi-billion dollar, thriving sports entertainment entity made up of 32 individual competing members, the NFL is constantly looking for ways to find and grow new revenue streams. Two things they don’t want to tell you are how much money they’re making and how much profit they’re banking.
There is one NFL franchise that does not get the privilege of hiding behind private ownership: the Green Bay Packers.
As a publicly owned entity made up of shareholders — real and imagined — the merchants of Titletown are required to disclose their profit and loss statement every year. This annual disclosure offers a telling glimpse into the realities of how NFL teams are performing financially, how much revenue NFL teams are sharing, and how that money is being used to fortify the team and the greater organization.
Despite an army of lawyers and filed motions, the NFL Players Association was largely thwarted in 2011 when they demanded to know how much profit the NFL owners claimed they weren’t making. The NFLPA had to settle for basing their allegations of just how much profit was going to the 32 teams by using the Packers’ P/L statement when they were wrangling over a new collective bargaining agreement.
Thanks to the Packers, the NFLPA and the rest of the world knows that the 2013 NFL continues to do all right. The Packers released their annual report earlier this month, disclosing a record profit. The 2013 report showed a profit of $54.3 million operating from $308 million in revenue; a 26.4 percent increase over 2012.
With their continuing financial success, the Packers have been able to make a number of significant investments into the current team and for the future of the organization. Despite already offering what is largely considered to be the Mecca of professional football stadium experiences, the Packers just completed renovations on venerable Lambeau Field. The new renovations included adding roughly 7,000 new seats, which expanded the seating capacity to 80,750, making it the third-largest stadium among NFL teams. This is all the more remarkable when you consider that Green Bay is the NFL’s smallest city.
Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy recently told ESPN Wisconsin, “With the financial situation we’re in now, we’ve been able to invest in the team — some of you may have noticed we were able to sign a few key players recently, and even within the last few days — invest in facilities, invest in the fan experience, the game day experience; and invest in technology,” Murphy said. “We’re trying to set the organization up to continue to be successful into the future and provide financial stability.”
Clearly, the Packers are doing well financially. While not all revenues are shared, the major income stream — broadcast (TV, radio and internet) revenue — is shared among the 32 teams. NFL teams make many millions off of shared television contracts, road gate receipts, merchandising and more. Additionally, as evidenced by the Packers, individual teams are able to maximize their local revenues to their best ability. This includes home gate receipts, local media deals, Pro Shop sales, stadium tours, parking, real estate acquisitions and other marketing activities that, while not shared with other owners, are supported by fans and locals alike in every NFL city.
Some NFL teams are more adept at local marketing than others. Fortunately for the less marketing-savvy teams, the league’s major revenue streams and expenses are shared equally among the teams. The Packers’ annual statement shines a light on those numbers every year so we know just what our NFL buck is buying.