The NFL has approved the Packers’ request for $58 million in G-4 stadium-funding money, which will greatly reduce the amount of money the Packers will have to borrow for the ongoing renovation of Lambeau Field.
“We’re very pleased that the owners voted to provide funding for our project. When we decided not to pursue any public money for the project, we were hopeful we would be able to receive funding through the new Collective Bargaining Agreement,” Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy told packers.com.
G-4 is a league program for funding the construction of new stadiums and the renovation of existing stadiums. G-4 is a product of the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement and is funded by the teams and players.
“Stadium financing was a priority in the bargaining process. Our bargaining committee wanted to make sure teams and players continued to invest in stadiums and make fan experience positive. Everybody benefits when we build new stadiums and renovate stadiums,” Murphy said.
The G-4 program is especially important as tax money becomes more difficult for teams to access for stadium construction. The Packers are the second team to benefit from G-4; the San Francisco 49ers are the first team to have received G-4 money, for construction of a new stadium in Santa Clara.
“It’s getting harder and harder to get public money, so I think the league and the players have to be creative to ensure that stadiums don’t become outdated,” Murphy said.
In addition to San Francisco and Lambeau Field, G-4 money is also expected to be used for the construction of other stadium projects, including the new stadium in Minneapolis.
“We compete not only against each other but against all other sports and entertainment. As a league, we’re also competing against ourselves in the sense that the experience at home watching on TV is so good that we have to make sure the experience in the stadium continues to be special,” Murphy said.
A new sound system, video boards and entrance are already in use in Lambeau Field for the 2012 season. The north loft, a viewing platform for 500 atop the north end zone, was completed this year and immediately became popular with fans. The south end zone expansion, which will provide approximately 7,000 additional seats, the economic equivalent of one more home game a year for local businesses, will be complete for the start of the 2013 season.
“It’s really good for the Packers organization. The changes have already improved the fan experience,” Murphy said.
“I’ve thought to myself, what would the Packers be like if they hadn’t done the renovation in 2003? We’d definitely be in the bottom quartile of the league in terms of revenue. Now we’re among the best teams in the league in terms of facilities.”
Would Lambeau Field continue to be a viable home for the NFL had it not been renovated in 2003?
“I’d have real concerns if that hadn’t been done,” Murphy said. “It’s a competitive league. The bar has been raised with new stadiums. We want to make improvements, but we don’t want to take away what makes Lambeau special. The new renovation is similar in that I think it looks like it really belongs. The bowl hasn’t been changed and that’s part of what makes Lambeau special.
“It really enhances our future, especially from a financial standpoint,” Murphy said. “I hope 10 years from now people say the Packers did a good job, just like we’re saying now the Packers did a good job with the renovation in 2003. Lambeau Field is such a special place, I think we all feel an obligation to leave it better than we found it.”
The 2003 renovation was funded in part by a G-3 stadium construction program in place then. G-4 will contribute $58 million of the first $143 million used in the current renovation and expansion.
Four sources of revenue provide funding for the project: stock sale, G-4, Stadium District user fees and borrowing by the Packers.