On July 8, 2000 at 9:30pm, twelve-year old me and my mother piled into her car for a 30 minute drive to go wait in line.
By the time we got there I realized that leaving earlier would have probably been a wiser choice as there were close to 200 people ahead of us. As more and more folks like me showed up and filled the spaces being held for them ahead of me, my heart began to sink. This was my first experience waiting in line for something I so desperately wanted and I was worried that I wouldn’t get it that evening.
But I did. I was one of the last people in my area to purchase a rare signed copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and it felt good.
Whether it’s a video game, limited edition pair of shoes, or signed copy of a book, exclusivity and scarcity breed desire, and little is more exclusive in this world than NFL season tickets. In retrospect, a two-hour wait to get a simple material possession felt rather trivial.
At the present, approximately 15 of the 32 NFL teams have an official waiting list for season tickets and it can take several years to obtain purchasing rights. The Green Bay Packers (1960), Washington Redskins (1966), and Pittsburgh Steelers (1972) began their waiting lists over 40 years ago and nearly all three have over 100,000 names patiently yearning to be chosen.
The longest current average wait time to purchase season tickets for an NFL team is for the Packers at 100 years.
Earlier this year, Wisconsin resident Brad Sauve was awarded rights to purchase Packers season tickets 37 years after he put his name on the list. When he signed up in 1976, Sauve was around number 7,500. Fast forward to 2013 and he was finally part of an exclusive family.
What makes the wait time for Packers season tickets so long is a combination of affordability and transfer rights. All Sauve had to pay was a one-time $4,200 fee for the rights and $2,380 per season for two tickets to seven Packers home games – just $1,190 per ticket.
Additionally, the Packers allow tickets rights to be transferred among family members. Therefore, a season ticket holder from 1963 can transfer his tickets to his children, his children to their children, and beyond. As they are considered a treasure by families that own them, it is estimated that less than 100 are turned over each year, however the recent south endzone expansion of Lambeau Field this year opened up 7,500 additional seats which were awarded to those waiting since somewhere between the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
As a result, fans have been known to put the names of their children on the wait list – many as soon as the child is born and tendered an official birth certificate – meaning some Packer fans around 30 to 35-years old may get the phone call of a lifetime as early as next year. More recent wait listers will have to wait a little bit longer, however.
With the queue moving at a rate slower than a snail’s pace, some speculate that the wait time for names placed on the list today is in the ballpark of 955 years. Nearly ONE. THOUSAND. YEARS.
So if you put your name on the list this year, your ancestors will be able to collect their tickets just in time for the start of the 2968 NFL season when the Mars Red Martians open the season at Lambeau Field following a Mick Jagger and Keith Richards national anthem because of course all three of those things will still be around a millennium from now.
|Team||Wait List Start Year||# Names on Wait List||Avg. Wait Time|
|Green Bay Packers||1960||105,000||100 years|
|Washington Redskins||1966||150,000||25 years|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||1972||88,000||50 years|
|New York Giants||1976||135,000||Unknown|
|New England Patriots||1994||60,000||50 years|
|Chicago Bears||2005||8,000||30+ years|
|New Orleans Saints||2006||70,000||Unknown|
|Minnesota Vikings||2013||Unknown||1 year|
|Tennessee Titans||Unknown||22,000||20 years|
|Denver Broncos||Unknown||45,000||15 years|