Meet­ing is moved in­doors

Packer Plus - - News - Richard Ry­man

Green Bay — Brian Gutekunst, in his first Green Bay Pack­ers share­hold­ers meet­ing as gen­eral man­ager, got rained out last week.

Well, not en­tirely, but he ended up speak­ing to a TV cam­era and a room full of re­porters af­ter share­hold­ers moved from Lam­beau Field seats to the atrium, con­courses and club seats about 20 min­utes be­fore the sched­uled 7 p.m. start. The pos­si­bil­ity of rain and light­ning chased the meet­ing in­side for the first time in the 13 years since it moved to the Lam­beau Field bowl.

Pack­ers Pres­i­dent and CEO Mark Mur­phy said the state of the team is good and Gutekunst ran through the of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive ros­ters, coaches, free agents, draft choices and other staff. He talked about their suc­cesses in the past and in a gen­eral way ex­pec­ta­tions for this year. It wasn’t a deep dive, but it was more in­for­ma­tion than pre­de­ces­sor Ted Thomp­son pro­vided in the past sev­eral years.

And Gutekunst didn’t for­get Thomp­son, call­ing him “one of the finest tal­ent eval­u­a­tors who’s ever done this job.”

The Pack­ers have 360,760 own­ers hold­ing 5.02 mil­lion shares. Shares are not traded and they are rarely sold. The last sale was in 2012 to help pay for south end zone ex­pan­sion.

Mur­phy ad­dressed the is­sues of player protests dur­ing the na­tional an­them. The league is­sued a pol­icy that al­lowed protest­ing play­ers to stay in the locker room, but the NFL Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion filed a griev­ance and the two sides sub­se­quently said they would try to work out a so­lu­tion.

“It’s re­ally proven to be a dif­fi­cult is­sue. It’s di­vided our fans,” Mur­phy said. “We have tremen­dous re­spect for our play­ers. We’d like to move be­yond protest to progress. What kind of pro­grams can we work with with them to make a dif­fer­ence?” Other takeaways:

The Pack­ers will play the maximum five prime­time games dur­ing the com­ing sea­son and Green Bay at New Eng­land on Nov. 4 was the No. 1-ranked TV game of the sea­son. “We re­main pop­u­lar with the net­works,” Mur­phy said.

The Pack­ers con­tinue to pur­sue host­ing the NFL draft in 2021 or af­ter. “The key is­sue there is the new (Brown County) expo hall. We want to be sure that is up and run­ning,” Mur­phy said.

The Pack­ers are one of only two teams that have not played a game in­ter­na­tion­ally and Mur­phy sug­gested they won’t be go­ing over­seas or to Mex­ico any­time soon. The Pack­ers won’t give up a home game and other teams don’t want to give up home games against the Pack­ers.

The first night meet­ing since the event moved into the Lam­beau Field bowl in 2006 had 5,900 at­ten­dees when they emp­tied the stands. The record an­nual meet­ing at­ten­dance is 18,707, set in 1998, when the meet­ing also was held in Lam­beau Field.

The Pack­ers said rev­enue for the fis­cal year, which ended March 31, was $454.9 mil­lion, $13.5 mil­lion more than last year. Ex­penses were $420.9 mil­lion, a $44.8 mil­lion in­crease. Since Lam­beau Field was ren­o­vated in 2003, rev­enue has in­creased ev­ery year. The Pack­ers ranked eighth in the NFL in rev­enue last year. Tra­di­tion­ally, the Pack­ers are in the top 10, but it’s get­ting harder and harder to do that as new sta­di­ums open, Mur­phy said.

The Pack­ers said they made the equiv­a­lent of $8 mil­lion in char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions last year, ei­ther through the Pack­ers Foun­da­tion or di­rectly by the team.

Nancy Arm­brust, re­tired ex­ec­u­tive from Schreiber Foods Inc., Robyn Davis, pres­i­dent and CEO of United Way of Brown County, and Rob Gil­son, pres­i­dent and CEO of Im­pe­rial Sup­plies, were elected to the team’s board of di­rec­tors.

The rain threat also caused the can­cel­la­tion of a two-plane DC-3 fly­over be­fore the meet­ing. The Pack­ers were the first NFL team to fly to a game, go­ing from Green Bay to New York in 1940.

JIM MATTHEWS / USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-WIS­CON­SIN

Fans file out of the sta­dium bowl af­ter storms dis­rupted the Green Bay Pack­ers’ an­nual meet­ing of share­hold­ers at Lam­beau Field.

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