Originally written July 24, 2012 on Fox Sports Wisconsin:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It seemed like a lot more to Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy, but the team's annual shareholders meeting had a bit less than 12,500 people in attendance on Tuesday morning.That amount did not come close to the all-time high of 18,707 shareholders that attended the meeting in 1998. However, more than 21,000 additional Packers shareholders watched an exclusive online live stream, an opportunity that was offered for the first time ever."Looking at it, just kind of eyeballing it, it looked to me like it was at least the biggest crowd we've had since I was here," Murphy said. "It seemed bigger. I would have guessed at least 20,000."Out of the 363,941 Packers shareholders, more than 25,000 shareholders requested tickets for the event. But only half of those people actually ended up as part of the gathering.In previous years, shareholders would frequently inform the organization that they would be there in order to get the commemorative ticket and then not go. However, also for the first time this season, the Packers offered commemorative tickets to shareholders without their commitment to attend, hoping to get a better idea of how many would actually show up. A total of 47,000 signed up to receive the commemorative ticket without giving the impression that they would be attending.Another change this year was that shareholders were not allowed to bring a guest, which could account for the smaller-than-expected turnout. Murphy mentioned the possibility that the 2013 shareholders meeting could go back to the previous policy with guests being allowed in.While there were plenty of Wisconsin-based Packers fans there, there were some shareholders in attendance who traveled from New York, California, Washington, Arizona and Colorado. There were also 44 tickets requested and sent to Canada, four to Puerto Rico and one to the Virgin Islands, though it could not be confirmed whether or not any of them made the trip.With the Packers offering free parking, the Lambeau Field lots were full more than an hour prior to the 9:30 a.m. meeting. With a stage set up near the 50-yard line, Murphy, general manager Ted Thompson and several other executives gave its shareholders a full 90-minute presentation.Unlike a typical stock, owning a share in the Packers cannot create dividends and cannot be resold for a profit. But Murphy believes that's what makes the connection between the team and its fans so unique."It's not an investment in the sense of a normal investment," Murphy said. "It gives them a special bond to the organization that you just don't see from other organizations. Everybody talks about their great fans and how supportive they are, but with our fans, it's different. I think the ownership is a key part of that."They just have a great pride in the organization and the team. I think the fact that they're shareholders is a big part of it. It's a story that resonates well with people."Follow Paul Imig on Twitter
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