Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy says he expects the team’s home games this season will have no more than 10,000-12,000 fans, if spectators are allowed at all.
The Packers had announced two weeks ago that their 81,441-seat Lambeau Field would have a “significantly reduced” capacity this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Murphy revealed Tuesday the magnitude of that reduction while expressing optimism a season would be played.
“I think quite honestly when you see the numbers across the country, particularly in certain states, it does give you some pause,” Murphy said Tuesday. “But I do feel confident in the steps that we’ve taken, the protocols that we’re putting in place. I think our testing is going to be the most comprehensive of any sport. I feel confident that we’ll get the season in. Whether fans are in the stands, that’s an area where I have real question.”
Murphy was participating in a Zoom session with reporters to reveal the team’s revenues and expenses for the most recent fiscal year in advance of Thursday’s shareholders meeting for the NFL’s only publicly owned franchise.
He said the team plans to “really wait as long as we can to make decisions on how many fans we will have in the stands,” but that 10,000-12,000 would be the maximum allowable based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols and NFL guidelines.
“We’re very fortunate that two-thirds of our revenue is from television and from national revenue,” Murphy said. “That covers our player costs. From a league perspective, the priority is to play the games, get the games on television and make sure we keep everybody safe and healthy.”
Murphy said he believes the Packers are well positioned to handle this pandemic. He noted the team has a corporate reserve fund totaling $411 million.
The Packers are coming off a year that featured soaring profits and a record $506.9 million in total revenue. Those figures are based on the Packers’ financial reports from the fiscal year ending March 31.
Team officials reported $70.3 million in profits, a dramatic rise from the previous year’s total of $724,000.
Revenue increased from $477.9 million last year to $506.9 million this year, a jump of 6.1%. Expenses dropped 8.5%, going from $477.2 million to $436.6 million.
Expenses had risen from $420.9 million in 2018 to $477.2 last year in part due to a coaching change, a four-year, $134 million contract given to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, plus a free-agent spending spree that added outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos and guard Billy Turner to the roster.
The Packers weren’t nearly as active in free agency this year, and the expense totals reflected that.