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“We’re off and running.”

Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy couldn’t have gotten those words out fast enough as he kicked off the team’s latest stock sale.

By the time Murphy took the podium in the Lambeau Field auditorium moments after the official 8 a.m. start time on Tuesday, the first sale had been recorded from Texas, and in the first 11 minutes of the sale, Murphy announced that 1,600 orders had already been taken.

Off and running, indeed.

“This is an exciting day for the Packers,” Murphy said. “It’s an historic moment, we believe, for the organization.”

The stock sale is the fifth in team history, and all proceeds will go toward the $143 million expansion of Lambeau Field that is being funded without any taxpayer dollars. The centerpiece of the expansion includes an additional 6,700 seats in the south end zone, scheduled for completion in 2013.

Online sales are available for the first time (at www.packersowner.com), and requests for an offering document for ordering my mail only can be made by calling a toll-free number (1-855-8-GO-PACK).

The website is experiencing very high traffic volumes and fans are encouraged to utilize the website knowing that it is currently running slow.

At $250 per share, Murphy said the team has budgeted conservatively in the hopes of at least matching the roughly $20 million raised from the last stock sale, in 1997. The ease of online sales and the current state of the team – coming off a Super Bowl victory and remaining undefeated thus far in 2011 – could help surpass the mark.

Judging by the early returns, it may almost be a given.

“I think our fans across the country are very excited to support that success, be a part of that, and this is a great way for our fans to support the team and to ensure we continue to have great success and have strong, competitive teams into the future,” Murphy said.

Murphy and Vice President of Finance Paul Baniel unveiled the new stock certificate on Tuesday morning. It includes all of the logos the team has used in its 93-year history, five of them prior to the current G.

Also, for the first time, the certificate includes an image of Lambeau Field, symbolic of the specific entity fans are supporting with their purchases.

“We view it as building on the success of the renovation we had in 2003,” Murphy said. “We’re funding this all on our own, and the proceeds from the stock sale will reduce the amount that we would have to borrow.”

The team has received regulatory approval to sell the stock in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands. The stock provides no financial benefit to the holder.

It does carry with it the right to attend the franchise’s annual shareholders’ meeting and related voting rights.

“I think the reason our fans are so supportive and so loyal to the team is our ownership structure,” Murphy said. “They literally have a vested interest in supporting the team, so the connection and the bond our fans have with the team is stronger than fans of any other team have.

“I believe this stock offering and this sale will strengthen that. We’ll have more shareholders, people will have a much stronger tie to the team, and we’ll see benefits of that into the future.”

Previous stock sales took place in 1923, ’35, ’50 and ’97. Prior to Tuesday morning, the organization had approximately 112,000 shareholders holding around 4,750,000 shares of stock.

A stock purchase requires a $25 handling fee per order (not per share), and shares purchased by Dec. 12 are guaranteed to arrive in time for the holidays. Online purchases with a credit card can be made up until Dec. 16 with holiday arrival still guaranteed.

“This is for the long run,” Murphy said. “Our fans realize this is to ensure that we continue to have success and remain competitive within the league.”

Stock in the Packers does not constitute an investment in “stock” in the common sense of the term.

Anyone considering the purchase of Packers stock should not purchase the stock to make a profit or to receive a dividend or tax deduction or any other economic benefits.