Shareholders meeting marks Packers season's unofficial start

By Genaro C. Armas Sports Associated Press

Fans listen to President and CEO Mark Murphy at the annual Green Bay Packers shareholders' meeting at Lambeau Stadium on Monday, July 24, 2017, in Green Bay, Wis. (Adam Wesley/The Post-Crescent via AP) (Adam Wesley/The Post-Crescent via AP)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Training camp has yet to begin and Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy is already looking forward to the end of the season.

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Finishing the year at the Super Bowl, which is being played in Minneapolis at the home of the NFC North rival Vikings, would be quite a treat for Packers fans.

"I tell you it's going to be a lot of fun this year for all our fans to drive across the state of Wisconsin," Murphy joked at the Packers' annual stockholders meeting on Monday.

This was no chest-thumping guarantee, just a good-natured comment from Murphy to the roughly 7,000 people who sat through the 90-minute meeting on a sunny day at Lambeau Field. These die-hard Packers fans took no issue with the statement.

"It certainly wasn't a guarantee. It was just that it would be really nice to play in a Super Bowl in Minneapolis," Murphy said. "I hear form fans all the time in western Wisconsin ... Minneapolis is a great city and the new stadium is really pretty spectacular. It will be a really nice Super Bowl."

As the NFL's only publicly-owned team, the Packers are required to host a shareholders meeting each year. Most attendees show up decked in an Aaron Rodgers jersey or some other variety of green-and-gold attire. A handful wore foam cheeseheads.

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With players due to report for camp on Wednesday, the meeting represents an unofficial kickoff to football season. The first practice is Thursday.

The Packers have released most of the financial information already, though Murphy did offer a few fresh tidbits:

—Player costs rose to $192.5 million in 2017, up 16 percent from the previous year. This was attributed to the cyclical nature of player contracts.

—The Packers have applied to host the draft in 2019, 2020 or 2021. Murphy said a decision from the NFL could come next summer.

— Murphy was asked about a potential football series between Wisconsin and Notre Dame to be played at Lambeau and Soldier Field in Chicago. He replied: "I would say we've been working on that for a while and I'm very, hopefully very soon we'll be able to make an announcement."

Such a high-profile matchup would fit into the Packers' desire to host a high-profile event at Lambeau every year. Wisconsin beat LSU 16-14 at Lambeau in each team's opener in 2016. This year, Lambeau Field hosted a concert by rock star Billy Joel.

The franchise is also in the midst of planning events around its 100th anniversary season in 2018.

"I think the only more highly attended shareholder meeting is Berkshire Hathaway. They have more people, so maybe on our 100th anniversary we can break the record," Murphy said.

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