NFL season ticket waiting lists
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The National Football League has enjoyed success in selling out many of their venues from season ticket sales alone. Out of 32 teams in the league, 24 claim to have waiting lists from under 1,000 people to over 150,000. For some fans, this means a wait not just of years, but decades. This is due mostly to the NFL's short window of play; there are only eight regular-season home games, forcing the most devoted fans into a desperate and sometimes costly search for a limited number of events.
From 1973 to 2014, the waiting lists also had the by-product of preventing any home games of certain teams from being blacked out on local television. Under the league's blackout policy, home games were required to be sold out within 72 hours of kickoff before a telecast was allowed, and the longest waiting lists have ensured every home game of the applicable teams being locally televised. Prior to 1973, home games could not be locally televised even if they were sold out. Four teams have had the benefit of not seeing any blackouts at all since 1972 (excluding playoff games, which are not covered under season ticket purchases). This restriction was lifted by the FCC in October of 2014, and the league followed suit by suspending its blackout policy for 2015.
Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs)
Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) is a license which grants the holder the right to buy season tickets for a particular team. PSLs were first used in the NFL by the expansion Carolina Panthers in 1993 to help finance their new stadium. Since that time, several teams have used the mechanism to finance new stadium projects including the Chicago Bears remodel of Soldier Field and more recently the Dallas Cowboys. The New York Jets and the New York Giants used PSL programs to finance the construction of the New Meadowlands Stadium, now MetLife Stadium.
In 2003, the New York Jets changed their waiting list policy to require a $50 annual maintenance fee to remain on the waiting list. However, due to the long list of names and high renewal rates among existing ticket holders, there was uncertainty about the fees a person may possibly have to pay if they remained on the list for many years. After attention from the media and the New York Attorney General's Office, the Jets agreed to cap the maintenance fees at $500, allow the transfer of the waiting list position if the person moved out of state and provide at least 80% of non-renewed season tickets to waiting list members. In 2008, the Jets sent notices to those on the waiting list that the $50 annual maintenance fee would be waived and any money already accrued would be either refunded or credited toward the purchase of Jets merchandise.
In 2004, the New England Patriots, who have a substantial season ticket waiting list, received media attention for not allowing the son of a deceased season ticket holder to retain his father's season tickets. The following year, the New England Patriots introduced the "Pass It On" transfer program, which allows season ticket holders to transfer season tickets to immediate family members for $2,000 to $5,000 per ticket, depending on the location of the seat.
The NFL requires that season ticket purchasers not only purchase the regular season games, but also typically two preseason games whether they want the exhibition games or not. The legality of requiring the purchase of the preseason games has been challenged all the way to the Supreme Court but it has not resulted in a change of policy for the NFL.
Lengthiest waiting lists
The Green Bay Packers have the most famous waiting list, with more than 100,000 names. The team's website says the wait is 30 years. It is a common custom in Green Bay and other Wisconsin cities to put a baby's name on the list as soon as the birth certificate is obtained. Transfer of standing to surviving relatives is permitted by the Packers. The Packers front office tell fans the wait will be for 30 years.
The Washington Redskins were reported to have the most number of names on their waiting list at over 150,000. However, recent investigations question whether a waiting list exists at all, which would seem to contradict the fact that FedExField demolished 10,000 seats heading into the 2011 season. The New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos historically have also maintained long waiting lists for season tickets.
|Team||Year waiting list was started||Approx. number of names on waiting list||Approx. wait time||Personal Seat License|
|Arizona Cardinals||N/A||No waiting List||N/A||No|
|Baltimore Ravens||Unknown||3,000 (capped)||5 years||Yes|
|Carolina Panthers||N/A||No Waiting List||None||Yes|
|Chicago Bears||2005||7,921+||20+ years||Yes, PSL purchase optional|
|Cincinnati Bengals||N/A||No waiting list||None||Yes|
|Cleveland Browns||N/A||No waiting list||None||No|
|Dallas Cowboys||N/A||No waiting list||None||Yes AT&T Stadium only|
|Denver Broncos||Unknown||45,000+||10–15 years||No|
|Detroit Lions||N/A||No waiting list||None||No|
|Green Bay Packers||1960||115,000||30 years||Yes (one-time, $2,100 per seat—Green Package)|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||N/A||No waiting list||None||No|
|Kansas City Chiefs||N/A||No waiting list||None||No|
|Miami Dolphins||N/A||No waiting list||None||No|
|Minnesota Vikings||2013||unknown||1 year||Yes|
|New England Patriots||1994||60,000||12 years||No|
|New Orleans Saints||2006||70,000||Unknown||No|
|New York Giants||1976||135,000||N/A||Yes, MetLife Stadium only|
|New York Jets||N/A||No waiting list||None||Yes, upper level has no PSLs MetLife Stadium only|
|Oakland Raiders||N/A||No waiting list||None||No|
|Philadelphia Eagles||2002||40,000||30 years||Yes|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||1972||88,000||50 years||Yes|
|San Diego Chargers||N/A||No waiting list||None||No|
|San Francisco 49ers||N/A||No waiting list||None||Yes, Levi's Stadium only|
|Seattle Seahawks||2006||12,000+||10 Years||Yes, Charter Market Place only|
|St. Louis Rams||N/A||No waiting list||None||Yes|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||N/A||No waiting list||None||No|
|Tennessee Titans||Unknown||22,000||20 years||Yes|
- Sherman, Lauren (2007-09-07). "Toughest NFL Waiting Lists - Forbes.com". Forbes.
- Mascarenhas, Rohan (2010-08-17). "New Meadowlands Stadium opens to Giants, Jets fans in East Rutherford". The Star-Ledger (Newark). Retrieved 2011-08-23.
- Mohl, Bruce (2005-02-25). "Season ticket transfer fees irk fans". The Boston Globe.
- Angelo F. Coniglio v. Highwood Services, Inc., 495 F.2d 1286 (2d Cir. 1974-04-17).
- "Packers.com FAQ".
- Packers.com - Fan Zone - Faq - Tickets
- File:Waitlist Postcard.jpg
- "SI.com - Be the 74,659th In Line! - Oct 9, 2007". CNN. 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- Farmer, Liz (2011-09-01). "Redskins season ticket waiting list is a mystery to fans, sports experts". The Washington Examiner.
- The Bills' waiting list takes effect when 60,000 tickets have been sold.
- http://www.wben.com/Bills-Set-New-Season-Ticket-Record/21636631, http://www.syracuse.com/buffalo-bills/index.ssf/2015/08/buffalo_bills_surpass_60000_season_tickets_sales_for_2015.html#incart_river
- The Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303561504577495083707417526.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read. Missing or empty
- O'Neil, Danny (2010-03-03). "Seahawks raise prices slightly for season-ticket renewals". The Seattle Times.