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Packers set shareholders meeting record


The attendance in the stadium didn't set any records but, combined with the online audience, the Packers held their largest shareholder meeting in franchise history on Tuesday.

With just under 12,500 shareholders inside Lambeau Field and more than 21,000 logged on to the exclusive online webcast of the meeting, the Packers surpassed the previous record attendance of 18,707 from 1998, also the year after a completed stock sale.

"Berkshire Hathaway claims to have had over 40,000, so we're not quite there," President/CEO Mark Murphy said of the possibility of holding the largest shareholder meeting in all of corporate America. Murphy spoke to the media shortly after the meeting concluded.

"But I'm going to demand a recount," he joked.

In all seriousness, the shareholders who did attend were treated to the unveiling of the new high-definition video boards in each end zone, which played the 2011 season highlight video before the meeting began.

During the season, those video boards will be showing the same replays the referee will be looking at under the hood during a replay review, one step the league is taking this year to differentiate the in-stadium fan experience from the home-theater one.

"For our fans, the video boards are really going to add to that experience," said Murphy, who noted that as a member of the league's competition committee he voted in favor of showing those under-the-hood replays in the stadium. "There are so many different things we can do in terms of statistics and information."

The Packers also are planning some different things with Lambeau Field's Atrium. Murphy did not discuss a timetable, but he revealed some details of an Atrium renovation that would commence when the current expansion of the south end zone is completed.

The Atrium project would include relocating the Packers Pro Shop to one continuous space on the first floor (it's currently divided into two floors), moving Curly's Pub from the second floor down to the first floor, and moving the Packers Hall of Fame from the lower level up to the second floor, plus adding escalators to funnel people up to it. The Atrium would also be expanded into the area currently occupied by the ticket office along Lombardi Avenue, with the ticket office being relocated.

"For us, the very best thing we can do is make sure the experience we provide is excellent, not just in the stadium but the entire experience," Murphy said.

During the shareholders meeting itself, fans saved their loudest ovations for Murphy's hoisting of Donald Driver's Mirror Ball trophy from his "Dancing With The Stars" triumph this past spring, and for his introduction of General Manager Ted Thompson, who injected some self-deprecating humor into his usual straightforward football report.

Thompson received a standing ovation from the fans amidst some chants of "Ted for President," which Murphy assumed were references to the White House, not Murphy's own office.

"He took a lot of criticism, I think unfairly," Murphy said of Thompson's arrival in Green Bay and the tumultuous summer of 2008. "He's a tireless worker and an extremely talented general manager, and it's not an accident. He works at it. I'm happy he's getting the recognition he is now."

Perhaps in the future the Packers will eventually be recognized for holding the country's largest shareholders meeting. With last winter's stock sale adding 250,000 new shareholders, the team did not allow any shareholders to bring guests to this year's meeting as in the past, because it was impossible to predict how many shareholders would want to attend. There were 47,000 shareholders who requested commemorative tickets to the event.

Murphy said this year's attendance would dictate reconsideration of the guest policy. Whether guests could actually count toward surpassing Warren Buffet's record is debatable, but that's a question for another day.

"Everyone talks about their fans and how great they are, but with our fans it's different," Murphy said. "They take great pride in the organization and the team, and being shareholders is a big part of it." Related links

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