The Green Bay Packers are America’s only publicly owned professional sports franchise, and that is really cool. Just in time for Christmas, the Pack recently launched a new stock offering, issuing a minimum of a quarter-million shares of common stock. In this case, common stock is not the sort of investment opportunity people are used to, although it does carry voting rights, however mathematically miniscule. For many of the more interesting elements of this offering, see Deadspin’s typically jaundiced-eye treatment of the details.
I found one aspect to be particularly noteworthy. Page five of the official stock offering document contains the following reminder of what it means to be a part-owner of an NFL team:
The NFL Rules prohibit conduct by shareholders of NFL member clubs that is detrimental to the NFL, including, among other things . . . publicly criticizing any NFL member club or its management, employees or coaches or any football official employed by the NFL . . . . If the Commissioner of the NFL (the “Commissioner”) decides that a shareholder of an NFL member club has been guilty of conduct detrimental to the welfare of the NFL then, among other things, the Commissioner has the authority to fine such shareholder in an amount not in excess of $500,000 and/or require such shareholder to sell his or her stock. In addition, if the Commissioner determines that a shareholder has bet on the outcome or score of any game played in the NFL, among other things, then the Commissioner may fine such shareholder in an amount not in excess of $5,000 and/or require such shareholder to sell his or her stock.
It seems to me that the sort of person who would want to buy common stock in the Packers is likely to be someone who does one or both of two things: 1) criticize football-related people, and 2) gamble on football. While enforcement seems unlikely, Deadspin notes that the threat was enough to spook at least one would-be purchaser.