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Inspired by Green Bay, Lobos BUAP try fan 'ownership' until TV deal found

Lobos BUAP are doing well in Liga MX but still navigating the off-field pressures of joining Mexico's top clubs.

MEXICO -- Right after the Lobos BUAP board launched its #LoboAportacion initiative, which allows fans and students to donate money to the club in order to cover some expenses, board member Jose Hanan, said they took the Green Bay Packer model as a reference and stressed they are not in dire need of money. Currently, Lobos BUAP has not reached an agreement with any TV network in order to carry its games locally. However this fan initiative, Hanan explained, has been in the works since before the start of the 2017 Apertura tournament even though the TV deal negotiations prevented them of an earlier launch.

"We were inspired by the Green Bay model, which has been quite successful and doesn't really harm anyone. We do need money but there are several companies approaching us, since they are interested because of tax-exemption privileges and can make important grants," Hanan said to ESPN in an interview.

"What we want is to link our fan base with the team through donations and eventually, they can become founding partners in the team's first Liga MX season. The team is already covered in full but obviously we need some extra cash. That way, we can create a bond between fans and the club; there will be several dynamics in place. It's interesting, but it doesn't mean we're facing bankruptcy," said Hanan.

This campaign, which started on Aug. 24 -- right after the 90-day window for the team in order to strike a TV deal expired -- will be permanent. At this moment, they don't have an estimate for how much they will raise but there are forecasts that if every Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla student (there are 80,000 enrolled) donates 10 Mexican pesos, the team will raise an additional 800,000 Mexican pesos.

Besides providing the team with extra cash, one of the main goals is to use this platform as an awareness campaign for the team in both local and national media. "You may not realize this but everyone talks about Lobos, for better or for worse; that makes Lobos appear in every media outlet there is. That's what we want. This also serves as an awareness campaign."

Among the benefits for donations, the team will have benefactors' names painted on University walls, will receive commemorative T-shirts and they could also enjoy meet-and-greet sessions with players and team officials.

Inspired by the Packers model?

Green Bay Packers' ownership, a family affair, started putting team stocks on sale in 1923 for $5 each. This has been repeated four other times, most recently in 2012, when $64 million was raised to help finance Lambeau Field renovations.

Stock sale rules mandate that no other person, different than a member of the owning family, could own more than 4 percent of team ownership, and these stocks don't provide its owners with any say in the team's direction. The only benefit for fans comes from the pride of being a "co-owner" in their favorite club.

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