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Packers oppose Lambeau Field proposal

The Green Bay Packers have objected to a proposal from a state legislator that would see the elimination of Lambeau Field’s current ownership structure in favour of the City of Green Bay taking on responsibility for the home of the NFL American football franchise.

The proposal was put forward yesterday (Monday) by David Steffen, a Republican from Howard. Steffen, a Packers season-ticket holder, claims the current Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District that was formed through the redevelopment of Lambeau Field completed in 2003 is now obsolete.

Steffen’s proposal would eliminate the District and move its costs and responsibilities to the City of Green Bay. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the proposal would refund $45m (£33m/€38.8m) to Brown County homeowners, grant $8m to other entities, and $19m to Green Bay to cover part of the cost of maintenance and meeting other lease obligations with the Packers. Lambeau Field is jointly owned by the City and the Stadium District, with the team’s lease being with both entities. 

The money would come from a fund established to make mandatory payments to the Packers for operations and maintenance at Lambeau Field for the remaining 12 years of the lease deal. The fund is administered by the Stadium District under an agreement tied to the renovation of Lambeau Field. 

Steffen is seeking public input on his proposal, stating that Lambeau Field is worth $700m and that his plan would grant the City direct control over its most valuable property. “This is a rough draft,” Steffen said yesterday. “If people in the public, elected officials… have input, I want it. Let’s have that discussion.”

In response to the proposal, the Packers and the Village of Ashwaubenon, said: “The Stadium District continues to work well and the Packers and Village of Ashwaubenon support the current structure.

“The Legislature designed and the voters deliberately chose the structure of a single-purpose, non-political entity to oversee Lambeau Field. Voters chose to support that specific structure by binding referendum.

“Sales tax was collected specifically for the maintenance of Lambeau Field through the terms of the lease. It is fiscally and operationally responsible to continue to use the funding for the purpose it was collected.

“The District was not designed to dissolve until it fulfilled its obligations in the lease, which runs to 2033. The District’s work is not complete.”

However, Steffen maintains the Stadium District completed its remit by 2015, adding it is a “statutory artifact” that has no reason to continue. “There was no one… who was anticipating this entity existing this long,” he said.

The latest news comes after the Packers last week received the NFL’s approval for a potential stock sale to help fund improvements at Lambeau Field. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell determined that a stock sale would meet the appropriate conditions established in 1997 for such a sale to raise funds for stadium renovation.

The Packers have undertaken significant stadium improvement projects recently. Multiple phases of concourse upgrades already completed, combined with planned new video boards and additional concourse upgrades, result in an estimated total cost of $250m.

Funds raised from a potential stock sale would support those projects, with the Packers not seeking any public tax dollars. The Packers have had five stock sales in their history. They took place in 1923, 1935, 1950, 1997 and 2011.

The 2011 sale, with shares priced at $250, added more than 250,000 new shareholders and raised $67.4m toward a new entrance tower and viewing platform in the north end zone and an expansion that added roughly 6,600 seats to the south end zone. That project was completed in 2013.

Image: Green Bay Packers