When you talk to Packer management, you start to realize that success is a tribute to the careful, constant maintenance of two things: the product on the field and the community’s warm feelings about that product. “It starts with football,” says Murphy. “We structure the organization in a way that we can be successful on the field. But a big part of it is also remembering that this team has a special place in this community. We’re owned by this community. We can’t be perceived as gouging the fans.”Matt Yglesias offers his thoughts:
The Packers must constantly walk that fine line between profitability and community. Every other NFL franchise is controlled or entirely owned by one majority shareholder, and NFL rules prohibit otherwise. (The Packers’ ownership structure predates current NFL rules.) Ticket prices, concessions, parking, stadium naming rights—all of that is dictated at most NFL stadiums by whatever the owner feels the market will bear, and every additional dollar is profit into the owner’s pockets.
The Packers don’t operate like that. Take ticket prices: Even after a 9 percent bump this Super Bowl championship year, the highest-priced ticket is $83, lower than all but two other franchises. In contrast to other NFL venues and their garish, wraparound ad signage, Lambeau is as austere as a high school football stadium. The only ads you see are on the scoreboard; the rest of the stadium has intentionally been maintained so that the vista a fan experiences today is similar to what he would have seen in the ’60s.
Why shouldn’t more communities be able to purchase NFL franchises and operate them for the broadly conceived good of a fanbase? It actually seems to me that something along these broad ownership lines is the most logical capital structure for most pro sports teams. You could imagine something like a team being owned by a group of several thousand season ticket holders who’d elect a board amongst themselves and hire a professional manager. As fans, their priority would be to put a winning team on the field. Business considerations would of course be an important element of that—you need revenue to hire players and coaches—but the structure of the “business” would resemble the basic relationship involved in being a season ticket holder. You’re putting money on the line because you can afford it and because you love to root for the team.Sports fandom is a strange thing. We invest an incredible amount of psychic energy and time into rooting for our team, but have no real influence on the internal operations beyond our ability to purchase or not purchase tickets and comment on blogs and radio shows.
Let's change that! Not that I have any problem with the Jets current ownership (Schottenheimer issues aside), but let's buy the Jets! Why not?