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For the first time in nearly two decades, the Green Bay Packers finished a year in the red. Deep in the red.
Packers president Mark Murphy reported the team lost $38.8 million in the last fiscal year, according to Sports Illustrated's Bill Huber.
How big a loss is that? It's the first time the team hasn't turned a profit since 2003:
“It was the first time we haven’t had a profit in over 20 years,” Murphy said. The last time, he said, was before the major stadium renovation completed in 2003.
The root cause of the loss is obvious: the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc with the finances of every major sports team in the world since March 2020. Per SI, the Packers saw a $149.1 million decrease in local revenue — from $210.9 million to $61.8 million in the most recent fiscal year — due to fewer fans at Packers games, the team's pro shop and Lambeau Field stadium tours.
Those losses were reportedly offset by $13.2 million in increased national revenue (mostly thanks to the expanded playoffs) and a $26.7 million reduction in team expenses, but that still added up to $109.1 million decrease from the previous year's $70.3 million profit.
From Sports Illustrated:
“COVID obviously impacted the Packers from a financial perspective,” Murphy said. “Our local revenue was significantly impacted. Still, we really feel that we remain in a strong financial position going forward and that we will continue to be able to provide the resources for the organization to be successful both on and off the field. As we all faced health and economic challenges with the pandemic, we really feel we emerged in a very good financial position.”
The Packers remain the lone publicly owned team in major American professional sports, so it's unlikely we see similar financial transparency from other teams. But don't think other teams aren't seeing a similar situation.
Packers are going to be fine
Fortunately for the Packers, the team was well-equipped to deal with such a year.
Murphy told team shareholders in May 2020 that the team had a $385 million rainy day fund, which should cover the team's recent losses nearly 10 times over. The Packers have also announced they plan to open the 2021 season with Lambeau Field at full capacity, so the worst is probably behind them, as it is for pretty much all other teams.
At this point, the team's biggest concern is probably just who's under center when the season begins.
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