Fans of the Green Bay Packers were stunned to learn that the Wisconsin Legislature has passed a bill to force the privatization of the Packers, the National Football League’s only publicly-owned franchise.
The bill was proposed by Governor Scott Walker and will also require the new owner of the team to purchase and rename Lambeau Field, the historic stadium where the Packers play their home games. Lambeau Field is named after Curly Lambeau, one of the founders of the football club who also coached and played for the team from the 1920s through the 1940s.
The bill was introduced, debated, and passed in less than five minutes during a closed-door (but open bar), secret session of the Wisconsin Assembly held on New Years Eve in a hotel close to the Wisconsin Capitol. The unpublicized gathering of 20 Republican Representatives and Senators, one Democrat, and an Associated Press reporter appears to be a violation of Wisconsin’s open meetings law, but the Assembly Speaker told the reporter that open meetings and quorums are "for losers.“
"They can try a Hail Mary if they want,” said the Speaker about opponents of the sale, “but we’re confident that any challenges to the law will be rejected by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.”
Governor Walker said earlier in the week that slow ticket sales for the Packers’ upcoming playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers “prove that socialism is a failure.” He could not be reached for comment after the bill was passed, but a spokesperson for the Governor said Walker would sign the bill during halftime of the game.
“Let’s face it. We’ve had a bit of trouble attracting business and jobs to this state, despite our best efforts to inform the private sector and the wealthy that in Wisconsin, everything is for sale,” said Walker’s spokesperson. “Having that commie sports team up in the Fox Valley was holding us back and hurting our reputation. I mean, we think it’s pretty obvious that we are all about serving the needs of the job creators, but apparently some of them just don’t believe us. What better way to show we are serious than to auction off this failing, publicly-owned asset? If this works, and we are confident it will, we expect that we will have no trouble selling everything else – from fire trucks to kindergartens to Devil’s Lake State Park.”
At least one former Packer player will be in attendance at the signing, but did not wish to be identified. The player denied knowing anything about the bill in advance. He says he is only going because his wife is a state employee and was pressured by the Governor. "The truth is, I think it's kind of a shitty thing to do," he said.
The bill requires the tens of thousands of current “owners” of the Green Bay Packers to return or destroy their stock certificates, which do not yield dividends. Walker has called the stock “nothing more than expensive souvenirs that are an insult to real capitalists.” The franchise and the stadium will be seized by the state within 90 days of the bill becoming law, and will then be sold in a silent auction to be overseen by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
The new owner or owners will have the option to keep the team name, logo, and colors, but will be required to rename the stadium. Asked why the name of stadium must be changed, Walker’s spokesperson said the Governor hopes to have the stadium renamed as "Walker Field" in time to use it a backdrop when he announces his candidacy for President of the United States.