*"Murphy Takes 5" is a monthly column written by Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy. On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at: *MurphyTakes5@Packers.com
The Green Bay Packers' community outreach takes many forms, but none are quite as unique as our annual "Tailgate Tour" that begins this month.
This year's "Tour," which begins May 15 in La Crosse, is the seventh such event for the Packers, and the fifth trip for me. The other cities in which we'll be hosting tailgate parties this month are Madison, Kenosha, Cedarburg/Grafton and Sturgeon Bay. Included on the tour are current players Mason Crosby, Charlie Peprah and Jordy Nelson, and Packers Hall of Famers William Henderson, Larry McCarren and Marco Rivera.
What makes the "Tour" so special, in my mind, is the way we're able to directly connect with fans in different areas around Wisconsin and, in the case of last year's tour, Upper Michigan. While our fans are familiar with our players from the media coverage of the team and also by perhaps attending a game at Lambeau Field or a training camp practice, being able to see a player in your own community takes the connection to a higher level.
Personally, I've enjoyed spending extended time with the players and our alumni, as it has given me the opportunity to get to know them better.
During the course of the "Tailgate Tour" we'll visit a school, a nursing home, a hospital, a park, a restaurant and many other places. At each of those visits we connect with the fans in a way that is somewhat unexpected, and it's away from Lambeau Field. Participating in and witnessing those moments is very fulfilling for me and for our players.
To top it off, money is raised at each evening's tailgate party to support a local nonprofit organization, a total that exceeds $500,000 in six years. It is those combinations of elements – connections with fans, chance meetings in unexpected locations and fundraising support for a worthwhile organization – that make the "Tailgate Tour" so special.
Overall, our community outreach programs are designed to assist nonprofit organizations, mentor youth, encourage volunteerism and gain an awareness of the unique needs of our communities.
Some other noteworthy efforts include our work with the "Make-A-Wish Foundation," our support of men and women in the Armed Forces and their families, player and coach appearances, educational and physical fitness programs, youth football, and cancer awareness and support organizations.
Monetarily speaking, last year's efforts had a charity impact of $6 million, including Packers Foundation grants, donated memorabilia for fundraisers, direct cash donations and volunteer work at concession stands. We feel it is very important to support the communities that have supported the Packers organization for more than 90 years.
We have a talented and dedicated community outreach staff that works hard to achieve our goals. Led by Cathy Dworak, the staff includes Bobbi Jo Eisenreich, Jessica Micke, Tim Schroeder, Julie Broeckel and Sandy Roubal. The many duties they perform include responding to donation requests, making grants, working with our alumni and coordinating our youth football programs.
From our activities here at Lambeau Field to our support that extends across the state, the organization's community outreach programs are efforts Packers fans can be proud of.
If we're in your neighborhood this month on the "Tailgate Tour," come see us and help a great organization in your own community, while you have some Packers fun.
Now, on to your questions:
Kathy from Milwaukee, WI
As one of the herd/hoard of new shareholders who are excited to be eligible for this year's shareholder meeting, I'm curious about two things: the actual date of the meeting (we all need to plan the rest of our summer but don't want to double book the meeting date!); how will you handle the additional crowds – I suspect you will have a lot of people like me excited about attending their first meeting!
Looking forward to the answer to both questions!
As you probably noticed, we recently announced that the Packers Annual Meeting of Shareholders will take place on Tuesday, July 24, at 9:30 a.m. in Lambeau Field.
You are certainly right in saying that we will have very many new shareholders attending their first meeting. Because of the number of people we expect, we will be able to issue tickets only to shareholders of record this year, with no opportunity for shareholders to bring guests. We also will be asking shareholders to request a ticket only if they definitely plan to come. Lambeau Field can accommodate approximately 50,000 for a meeting, so this approach will help us best prepare for the day.
We're hearing from many of you already. Watch for meeting information that will be mailed in June. This year's meeting could set a record for the largest shareholders meeting in U.S. corporate history. It promises to be an exciting day.
Phil from Sparks, NV
As the CEO of our team, what do you perceive to be the most important issues to keep our franchise viable financially and competitive on the field? It seems that large market teams with deep pocket owners would have a distinct competitive advantage if revenue sharing policies were ever changed. Do you get the sense from your involvement in owners' affairs that they are interested in keeping teams like the Packers viable? I have purchased stock for my Grandsons with the hope they will enjoy being Packer fans as much as I have during my lifetime. I trust that you will do everything necessary to make this happen.
*Thank you for your support of the organization through your purchase of stock for your grandsons. Our recent offering saw many families become owners across two and three generations. *
With regard to your question, revenue sharing is indeed a key piece in the Packers' ability to be competitive. Without it, large-market teams would have a competitive advantage financially over small-market teams. All NFL owners have an interest in keeping a competitive balance across the league, including sharing that supports teams in the smaller markets. The competitive parity is an important factor in why the NFL is so popular. Fans know each season their team has a chance to make an exciting run.
The NFL's loan program, known as G-4, also helps teams invest in their own stadiums, which in turn increases their revenues. In Green Bay, we'll be seeking some NFL financing for our Lambeau Field expansion project.
While the NFL programs are extremely important to our financial viability, the Packers also need to be wise with our resources here at Lambeau Field. Our marketing partnerships, retail operations like the Packers Pro Shop, and gameday and ticket revenues all contribute to our financial strength. We maximize those resources to complement the shared NFL revenue to ensure the long-term success of the Packers.
Chuck from New York
To what extent do the Packers stay in touch with former players? Do you help them find jobs after football?
Packers alumni are an important part of our family and remain involved in a variety of ways. Cathy Dworak, the Packers' manager of community outreach and players/alumni relations, serves as our main contact for them.
The popular alumni game is a highlight for many of our former players. The game, which includes a halftime introduction of the former players, is one component of a weekend that also includes a golf outing. Our alumni participate in many Packers events, too, including this month's Packers Tailgate Tour and make appearances in the community.
With regard to careers after football, that process begins the moment players enter the NFL. The NFL requires all drafted players to attend a rookie symposium which teaches them about making the transition to the pros. The symposium highlights many resources the league offers, including the Career Development Program which provides players with professional development training to help them grow as public figures and prepare for a second career.
In Green Bay, the Packers have an excellent player development program headed by former player Rob Davis, a 12-year veteran. Rob assists players both on and off the field and in the Green Bay community. His program, "Transition After the Game," helps current players acquire skills and contacts needed for a career after football. He also is developing a mentorship program which joins Packers players with professional mentors in the community.
The Packers and the NFL work hard to help players prepare for careers and life after football.
Rene from The Netherlands
Do you think there will be chance that there will be a NFL game in London with the Packers? This would probably an away game for the Packers as you won´t give up the home advantage
I live in the Netherlands and it would be THE opportunity for me to watch the Packers live.
GO PACK GO.
Thanks for the support from the Netherlands. We often hear from our fans in Europe and appreciate the excellent passion for us in Green Bay. There's certainly a chance we will play in London, but we don't know when that will take place. We'll be waiting to hear from the NFL on a possible trip. We'd enjoy the opportunity to see our fans in Europe.
A question from Thomas
As a lifelong Packer fan now living outside of Wisconsin, we typically attend away Packers games. We're looking to attend the Texans game this year. Has there been any consideration for the Packers organization coordinating block ticket purchases to away games to create a defined Packers Green and Gold section at the away games?
I have been very impressed with the way Packers fans support the team on the road. Each stadium we play in has a very strong contingent of Green and Gold fans. The best example for me was a recent game in San Diego where it seemed as though half the stadium was filled with Packers fans. It was so loud that at times the Chargers had to use a silent count on offense. I've never seen a home team have to do that before.
A large block of tickets is not possible through the Packers. Visiting teams receive a limited allotment for their use. Many of them get allocated to players and coaches for their family and friends, and remaining tickets get used for other purposes.
One option to explore is Packer Fan Tours. They have different packages available for away games and many times their tickets are in the same area of the stadium. Another option is the NFL Ticket Exchange, the NFL's official online ticket outlet. Fans have been able to use these outlets to get tickets at Packers games on the road, and in some instances have been able to get seats near other Packers fans.
The support of the fans on the road has been great and I know our players enjoying seeing it.
Have a question for Mark Murphy? Email it with your name and hometown here: MurphyTakes5@Packers.com