Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Packers released their financial records for the fiscal year starting April 1, 2003 and ending March 31, 2004. Prior to the renovation of Lambeau Field, the Packers operating revenue had slipped in comparison to other teams due to many new stadiums (Seahawks Stadium, Reliant Stadium (Houston), Heinz Field (Pittsburgh), Ford Field (Detroit), Gillette Stadium (New England)) and the Packers would have probably slipped further this fiscal year if not for the Lambeau Field renovation with new stadiums opening in Chicago and Philadelphia.

I thought it was important for Brown County and the city of Green Bay to pass the sales tax referendum that kept the city's biggest source of civic pride financially able to compete in the NFL and not risk losing the team. Without the renovation, the Packers would likely be around 25th out of 32 teams in gross revenue.

However, when Packers treasurer John Underwood says that the team is "headed for financial oblivion" he is not being honest with Packers fans. I would define "financial oblivion" as bankrupt but Underwood's interpretation of it more analogous to driving a Mazda in a league full of Ferraris. The Packers still collect $100 million per season in TV revenue and would sell out Lambeau Field every Sunday even if the team returned to a post-Lombardi/pre-Favre level of performance.

Without the added income, the Packers probably wouldn't have the financial resources to keep players like DT Cleditus Hunt or DE KGB, or sign a free agent like DE Joe Johnson or DE Reggie White. Obviously some of the millions the Packers spend on signing bonuses are better spent than others, and having the most money in the NFL does not necessarily buy you a winner (just ask a Washington fan). The Packers would probably be able to retain one player like QB Brett Favre and try to build a team of cheaper and younger players around him.

I'm glad the Packers have the financial resources to maintain and improve their roster, but the Packers should be more honest as to what are the financial realities for the team.

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