What other NFL Teams can learn from the Green Bay Packers


The south end zone at Lambeau Field will be finished this fall and will bring about 8,000 additional fans to Green Bay.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

A few weeks ago, the Green Bay Packers signed arguably two of the best players in all of football – Clay Mathews III and Aaron Rodgers.

Both will be wearing Green and Gold for at least the next five years, they have gone home with incredible individual packages, and helped the team do it by not handcuffing the franchise. With the way the deals with the two players have been structures, it  allows the Packers to keep the team competitive for years to come.

Like Clay Matthews said, the franchise is unique in its approach toward rewarding its players, as well as making sure that the team stays competitive year-after-year.

It doesn’t hurt that the Packers have had the two best back-to-back quarterbacks in their program for more than the past two decades. Between Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, they have won a lot of games for the Packers.

Remember what Lambeau Field looked like in the late 80 and early 90s?

It also helps that the Packers know how to make money. Last year, the team raked in an all-time franchise high in profits – $43 million – yes, that’s profit. Also within the past two decades the Packers have had clear goals in improving Lambeau Field, one of the oldest, but most revered stadiums in all of sports. With the  improvements the Packers have made to the stadium and the planned improvements in the coming two years, Lambeau Field will continue to offer the best game day experience in all of football.

While other teams continue to lose out to television, the Packers sell out every game and have a waiting list that will never come to an end.

“We want all decisions to be football decisions, not financial decisions,” Murphy told FOXSportsWisconsin.com today. “I think making sure we have the resources available (is important) so they can make decisions based strictly on football reasons. That was really big for the organization.

“This goes back years, we’ve set aside money in the Packers Preservation Fund for any emergency that may come up, but also to make sure that we can continue to be competitive,” Murphy said. “Whether that be investing in our players, or, the big thing we’re doing obviously, is investing in the stadium and investing in the community.”

And while the Packers are unique because they don’t have a single owner like other teams in the league, there are things these other teams can learn from the Packers – and that’s simplicity and functionality.

An artist’s rendering of the inside of the new stadium in Minnesota.

We’ve all seen the pictures of the mega-stadiums being proposed by teams such as those in Atlanta and Minnesota. Following in the footsteps of Jerry Jones and his billion dollar palace in Texas, the Falcons and Vikings are also looking at new monstrosities that will have all the amenities that will please the beautiful people who can afford the $1,000 tickets, but will price the hard-working fans out of the picture. They are the people who are the backbone of any NFL franchise and it’s decisions like we are seeing in Minnesota and Atlanta that are hurting the league, not helping it. It’s no wonder so many don’t want to go to the game, fight the traffic, pay through the nose for tickets and then get it again in the nose when it bleeds because they have to sit in the stratosphere.

While the Packers have made vast improvements to the aluminum-sided bowl that was Lambeau Field of the late 80s and early 90s, they have done it with the fans in mind. The original improvements to the stadium done more than a decade ago gave fans a new experience, but didn’t break the bank – the team also included the fans in the rebuilding by selling stock and raising funds to help with the payments. Another stock sale raised millions to help the Packers fund the addition of more than 8,000 new seats on the south side of the stadium, which will be ready for the start of the 2013 season.

Even more renovations are being planned as the team makes changes this year to the stadium Atrium and moves the team’s Hall of Fame from the basement of the facility – a move that will give the Hall better exposure.

What’s even better with these newest changes is the fact that the Packers are paying the bill in full – there will be no taxpayer funds needed – a win-win that should be something for which other teams should take notice.

When looking to the future, the Packers haven’t forgotten about the fans.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

But the Packers won’t sit still either. Other ideas to develop the area around the stadium to expand the fans’ experience are also being planned.

Here’s more of what Murphy had to say about the future:

"“For us, there’s not a profit motive. So, for us, if we can put money back and invest money back into the organization or into the community, that’s the equivalent of what other teams do in terms of paying salaries to owners or executives.”“You always have to remain vigilant in making sure you’re doing everything you can, so that, number one, the fans have a great experience and that we remain competitive,” Murphy said. “I think the next thing where you’ll start to see some changes is in the whole concept of Packers News; some development around the stadium.“It’ll help the Packers if we’re able to get more people to come into Green Bay. Those people will go to the Pro Shop and take tours of the stadium, but I think it’s really a way for us to invest in the community.”"

What other teams should consider when they plan these new venues for their teams is not the amount of glass and concrete they plan to use, but how these changes will affect the people who make the NFL what it has become. They can’t lose focus on what makes the NFL unique – the game itself. The Packers have been successful and have made money not only because they’ve paid attention to improvements in infrastructure, but because they have made the right decisions on the field.