- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MADISON, WIS. (AP) - The Green Bay Packers have an MVP candidate in quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a Super Bowl championship won just 10 months ago and an undefeated team making a run toward another title for Titletown.

The Packers now have hundreds of new owners, too.

The team kicked off a rare stock sale Tuesday to help pay for another round of renovations at Lambeau Field, giving pretty much anyone a shot at becoming an NFL owner for $250 per share, plus a $25 handling charge.

Sarah Johnson, 34, of Portage, said it took her nearly 20 minutes to complete what should have been a 30-second process, but it was worth to wait.

“I could have just as well thrown my money out the window for what I get for it, other than a feel-good,” she said. “I just feel like the Packer organization has sort of a nostalgia and an excitement around it other franchises don’t have. Just to say you’re part of that on some level is neat to me.”

The team received 1,600 orders in the first 11 minutes of the sale, said Packers President Mark Murphy, who had to reassure fans the Packers website was still working. Team spokesman Aaron Popkey said he did not have any sales data as of late Tuesday evening.

“It’s just a question of volume,” Murphy said. “Fans are excited about this opportunity. We just encourage fans to be patient.”

It is the fifth stock sale in the Packers‘ 92-year history and the first in 14 years.

The NFL’s only publicly-owned team offered 250,000 shares through Feb. 29, subject to an extension. The stock isn’t an investment in the traditional sense: Its value doesn’t increase, there are no dividends, it has virtually no re-sale value and it won’t give buyers a leg up on the 93,000 people on the waiting list for season tickets.

The fine print on the Packers‘ stock sale website says, too, that NFL rules prohibit shareholders from betting on any NFL game; violators could face up to $5,000 in fines.

Popkey and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in emails to The Associated Press that shareholder betting has never been a problem in the past.

What buyers do get is a piece of paper declaring them a team owner, voting rights and the right to attend the annual stockholder meeting at Lambeau each summer before training camp. Oh, and they get access to a special line of shareholder apparel, too.

The economy is still lurching along, but that probably won’t make much difference to the cheesehead nation, among the league’s most dedicated fans. The Packers‘ timing is perfect, too. Christmas is only a few weeks off and the Packers are hot, hot, hot: The defending champions clinched the NFC North title this past weekend and look like a favorite again with a 12-0 record with four games left to play in the regular season.

Plus, the cause is nothing less than spiffing up the team’s hallowed frozen tundra.

The team hopes to generate at least $22 million through the stock sale to help defray the cost of a $143 million renovation project at Lambeau. Plans call for adding 6,700 additional seats, new high-definition video screens and a new entrance by 2013.

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