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Green Bay Packers kick off 'stock' sale

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Packers Lions Football

Amanda Weichert, 24, of Eau Claire, Wisc.,watches pregame warmups before an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers in Detroit, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Weichert owns Green Bay Packers stock.

The Green Bay Packers, a storied football team known for its devout fans and long legacy, kicked off a $90 million sale of common "stock" on Tuesday. The team is selling 300,000 shares at $300 per share.

But the team is quick to note: It's not really stock. It is not traded on any stock exchange. Buyers have zero protection under securities laws. The Packers' offering document notes that it's "not an investment" and that shares offer "no possibility of profit."

Are buyers sacked for a loss? The money is effectively a donation that will help pay for upgrades to Lambeau Field, including high-definition video boards and concourse improvements. It's kind of like a Kickstarter campaign on steroids.

The Packers are a unique entity in the world of professional sports. The team is not owned by any billionaires. It has operated as a community-owned nonprofit since 1923. The team has approximately 361,300 owners. With an eye towards history, the team notes that this marks only the sixth time that it has offered stock over the last 98 years.

Buyers can also receive a certificate of stock, suitable for framing to hang on the wall and brag about. But it will cost you a few extra points. The Packers are charging an extra $35 "handling fee" for every stock certificate issued.

Stock holders will need to complete a separate transaction to buy a hard copy of their share certificate. If a buyer wanted to buy 50 shares but wanted a certificate for each share, they would need to do 50 separate transactions and add $1,750 in additional fees. If the team issued a certificate for every single share, that would bring in another $10.5 million.

The shares are not tax deductible and bring no special benefits like access to tickets or discounts on merchandise.

Buyers are limited to a maximum of 200 shares, including any acquired during previous offerings in 1997 and 2011. The offering is open until Feb. 22 or until the shares sell out. The Green Bay Packers organization did not respond to a request for comment.

In his overview of the offering, Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy adds a postscript: "Shares of stock in the Packers will make a cherished holiday gift."

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