The age-old rule is that if you want to raise money, you have to give away something.
For sports teams, this manifests itself in many forms, including personal seat licenses, and in the case of college sports, better seat locations or closer access to the program.
But the folks at Boise State are really going to test just how loyal their fans are. Yesterday, its athletic director Gene Bleymaier announced the formation of a non-profit organization (Boise State Broncos Inc.) that is seeking fans to invest in future Boise State athletic projects.
The only thing fans who pay $100 a share will receive is a stock certificate as well as voting power at board meetings, where it is decided how the money will be used.
No shareholder gets a piece of any bowl game money, a share of concessions from game day, any dividends or appreciation. No, it doesn't even come with a ticket.
For what it's worth, it is tax deductible.
It might seem a bit strange, but this plan is absolutely brilliant. Before you give away something that's really valuable, why not try to make money off giving away almost nothing? And when is the best time to give away nothing? When your most high-profile team is red hot. For those of you not following college football, the Broncos are currently 9-0 and are ranked No. 6 in the BCS standings.
And - it has been done before.
In 1997 and 1998, the Green Bay Packers raised more than $24 million in 17 weeks by selling 120,010 shares at $200 apiece to 105,989 people. The team said it sold this non-paying stock to people in 50 states — more than 64,000 from the state of Wisconsin alone.
It's not a coincidence that the Packers came up with this project in the year that they won the Super Bowl.
It will be interesting to see if Boise State can pull off what the Packers did. An initial public offering of $20 million means that they'll max out at 200,000 shares. If they can sell 50,000 shares, I'd be very impressed.
One thing is for sure, it will probably be the "bluest" stock certificate ever printed.
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