While still managing to secure a profit of $724,000, the Packers saw a 98% decrease in operating profit compared to the season before. While recent poor performance by the team is a factor, more importantly, the team’s spending increased dramatically.
Mark Murphy spoke on the subject to the Associated Press:
From a financial standpoint, it was a unique year for the Packers. We were a little more aggressive than we’ve been in a number of years. If we can get back to the playoffs and get to the Super Bowl, that always helps. We have a policy regarding our season-ticket pricing. We want to be just below the league average. We don’t want everything to be on the backs of our season ticket holders. We don’t have a rich, deep-pocketed owner, so we have a $400 million corporate reserve. Three or four years ago, we put $50 million into the corporate reserve. It’s grown since then with investment returns, and we’ve made significant investments in real estate around this area.
A strong factor contributing to recent expenses is the massive contract extension for Aaron Rodgers and offseason acquisitions such as Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner. The team spent a total of $113.5 million on just these moves alone. It is not a coincidence that these big spending moves coincide with the departure of Ted Thompson.
As mentioned, they did still manage to turn a profit so the $400m reserve fund remains untouched. The team certainly isn’t in financial dire straits, but the miniscule profit is atypical to how the team was ran under Thompson.
The Wall Street Journal reported recently that some NFL team owners are pushing for an 18 game season. One creative new spin on the idea to try and garner more support is the idea of limiting players to 16 games a season in an effort to get the approval of the NFL Players Association.
Murphy spoke with WSJ on the idea of a season expansion:
Quite honestly, that is a hard sell to fans. We’re looking at the overall structure of the season. And quite honestly, our preseason is not very good. I would be very concerned about the health and safety aspects of adding two regular season games. And so I think there’s a number of things we’re looking at. I think also the possibility of expanding the playoffs. I think that could be a positive for the league. And the other is the international aspect. There’s some things that we can do in the season structure that would allow us to play more games at neutral sites, either internationally or non-NFL cities that would help us grow the game.
While the move towards 18 games a season would generate a lot of additional revenue for teams and players, it seems like fans are getting marginalized in the process. Imagine a scenario in which a fan travels far to attend a game only to find out that one or more star players will be benched to satisfy the 16 game player limit. Murphy’s suggestion would include a 17th neutrally located game or international games, something the Packers have pushed for in the past.