NFL – A Money Making Machine
The Green Bay Packers are a breath of fresh air in the world of professional sports. Not because they’re in the smallest market of any major sport (although the fact that there is an NFL team in Green Bay, Wisconsin but not in Los Angeles is pretty wild), and not because of the long, long history the franchise has, going back to the very beginning of the NFL. The reason the Packers are refreshing is that they’re the only publicly traded company of any team sport. The Packers are actually owned by thousands of Packer fans who’ve bought stock in the team. The fact that the stock is basically worthless and can’t be sold on any market doesn’t seem to bother any of the thousands of people who own a piece of the team.
But because the Packers are a publicly owned company, they have to reveal their finances just like AT&T and Google. That means we all get to peek up the skirt of a professional sports team and see how much money they make, where it comes from and how much they spend. Other owners hate that of course, they’d love to keep all of that tasty information on the hush, hush. The Packers earned their equal share of the $6 billion dollar television contracts from last season, as well as other national revenue from the league, which added up to $187 million dollars (majority of it being television money). That’s the same number that Jerry and the Cowboys received and every one of the 32 teams in the league.
The Packers also brought in $136 in local revenue for ticket sales, parking, radio rights, hot dogs etc. Add both together and you have approximately $323 million in revenue. The team’s expenses were $298 million, of which $171 million were player salaries. That means the Packers made about $25 million dollars last season. So a couple of things hit you. First, If the Packers made $136 million in local money, just how did Jerry make? Radio rights, local sponsor dollars and filling a stadium with 100,000 fans each game… and on and on, the Cowboys have to be one of the most profitable, if not the most profitable team in local revenue (the Cowboys are also the only team that controls it’s own merchandise sales – others teams split the pot equally among every team in the league). Each team has the same salary cap to work around, so Jerry isn’t spending any more than the Packers on players. His electric bill is probably a bit larger considering his 80 yard long video screen and 3,000 flat screens throughout the stadium, but when it’s all said and done, Jerry has to be pocketing $50-$100 million per season. And next year league brings in a lot more money from the new television contracts. That is a ton of money for Jones–and the rest of the league.
So the league is obviously making plenty of money to finally do what they’ve been putting off for years – taking care of former players who have debilitating injuries. If it means each owner makes a few million less, they’ll never notice it. What can’t Jerry do with $90 million instead of $100 million per year?
If it weren’t for the Packers, all of the teams and the league could stay mum about their revenue and claim they don’t have the revenue to help the former players. Thanks to that team from the little town in Wisconsin, we get to see just how rich these owners are and how deep the league’s pockets go. It’s a nice little fraternity to pledge.