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January

Packers Ticket Mystery Solved (Somewhat)

Green Bay Packers tickets

Although tickets still remain for this week’s wild card game, the Packers expect their current sellout streak to continue

Since 1973, the NFL has maintained a blackout policy that states that a home game cannot be televised locally if it is not sold out 72 hours prior to its start time.  As of Thursday afternoon, the Green Bay Packers still had 3,000 tickets left to sell and had been granted an extension to 4pm on Friday afternoon by which to sell them.

For those of you who are still worried that the team may not sell out, keep something in mind that has been the case for many years:  While we may never officially hear about it, most teams have sponsors lined up to buy all remaining tickets and avoid the blackout.  The Packers surely have that in place, if needed.

Still, talk of a blackout is not something the Packers faithful are used to hearing or seeing in the news.  As long as I can remember, the Packers have had a waiting list for those wanting season tickets that is said to be as long as 25 years.

With the addition of another 7,000 seats at Lambeau Field this past offseason, that list got slightly shorter and offered additional opportunities for fans to get into one of the most historic venues across pro sports.  The Packers currently own a streak of 319 consecutive sellout games, with 301 of those being regular season contests.  I’m here to tell you that the streak will continue and to have no fear.

Interestingly, the Packers have two local markets:  Green Bay and Milwaukee.  This means that a television blackout would affect a large portion of the state’s viewing audience, if it got to that point.  Again, it won’t.  When was the last time that we saw a true TV blackout in a local market?  If the Jacksonville Jaguars can tarp thousands of seats in the name of advertising and remove them from the stadium count, I think the Packers can easily fill one of the league’s few Mecca’s.

With regards to obtaining playoff tickets at Lambeau Field, typically the Packers send out an invoice to their season ticket holders to give them first option to buy playoff tickets.  It makes sense that they would get first crack at them and that is how it is done with all professional sports.  The team’s timing wasn’t the greatest this season, however, as they sent out the invoices the week following the Packers embarrassing 40-10 loss to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving.

At that time, the Packers were 5-6-1 at that time and still uncertain about the return of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  The team’s chances of making a playoff appearance were looking slim and many simply chose to decline what seemed like a long shot.  Ergo, many tickets left to sell once the Packers won the division last week.

On Wednesday’s Green & Gold today radio show, hosted by Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee, there was much discussion about why there were so many available tickets to begin with and still, just three days before the game.  One listener, who is a season ticket holder, gave the most comprehensive explanation that, to me, makes the most sense as to why so many tickets were unsold.

Before I get into this explanation, keep in mind that I’m paraphrasing and as some of you are ticket holders, please do correct anything that is off.

He stated that season ticket holders are given the option to pre-purchase playoff tickets (up to 4 per account).  In the past, one could buy tickets for the wild card, divisional or championship rounds and if the Packers didn’t have a home game, the team would issue a refund, minus service charges.

Now and somewhat recently, the team has changed their policy and if a ticket holder wants to buy playoff tickets, they have to buy them for all three rounds of the playoffs.  This is the case whether the Packers have a chance of hosting a game or not.  The caller used the example of 2010 when the Packers were the sixth seed and had no chance of hosting any playoff games.  If ticket holders had opted to buy playoff tickets, the only option they would have had with the money they paid was to apply that towards the following regular season’s tickets.

This ticket holder referred to these changes as the “de-Harlanization” of the Packers.  His reference was back to when Bob Harlan was President and CEO of the Packers and whereby the team’s playoff ticket policy used to be perceived as fan-friendly.  Now they seem most concerned with generating more revenues.  The business side of sports will always gravitate in that direction, when they can, but it is a good point that this fan made.

He also stated that the payments for the following season’s tickets are due by the end of March now where they used to be due in June/July.  With the holiday shopping season approaching and the team in a slump without their starting quarterback, all of the stars aligned to make the appeal of Packers playoff tickets a virtual zero.

So as much as some want to raise questions about how faithful Packers fans are, how great the “at-home” experience is or how cold it is going to be on Sunday (a high of -5), those are at the bottom of the list of reasons why tickets still remain for this game.  In fact, the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals were also granted extensions and have a few thousand tickets of their own to sell.

This raises many questions about why the most popular sport in the United States would have trouble selling tickets to what are supposed to be their most meaningful games.  Perhaps football isn’t the most popular sport in the US?  Discuss!

 

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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17 Responses to “Packers Ticket Mystery Solved (Somewhat)”

  1. Tom Freeman says:

    Jason: this is generally correct, but a few details are off. I am looking at my 2012 “Green Package” playoff invoice for reference as to how it worked until this year, and my 2013 playoff ticket invoice for this year.

    In both years, I was given the right to buy my 2 “Green” package seats. The “up to four” tickets reference is, presumably, if you have more than 4 in your account, you can only buy up to 4. I had to send in a check or purchase my two tickets online. In 2012, I was given the option to check a box that said ” Yes, please apply credit to next year’s tickets.” If you don’t check it, then they refund the unused ticket price, pretty promptly after the season.

    You always have to buy two sets of tickets (not three, as stated). The first game could be either the wild card week, or the second week if the Packers get a bye. So, for example, last year the first ticket ended up being for the wild card game vs. Minnesota. The second game would be the NFC Champ. game, if the Packers host it. Last year, they obviously did not, so the Packers refunded the ticket cost for that second and final game.

    What happened this year (to be honest, I did not notice it when I ordered my tickets) is that you no longer have the option to not check a box, and therefore get a refund for unused games. It does say on the 2013 playoff invoice that “any remaining credit balance will be applied to your 2014 season invoice, to be sent in early February.” So the point people have been making is that, by December 4 (right after the Lions game), they had to choose to send in money for both sets of tickets, at a time when it looked doubtful the Packers would even make the playoffs, and where, if they did make the playoffs, it was highly unlikely that they would host 2 games, and where, if the Packers ended up hosting 1 game, or no games, there would be no refund; rather the ticket cost would be applied to next season. So given all that, I can understand why many season ticket holders opted not to order them.

    To give you a better sense of the dollars involved, my Green regular season tickets are now $85 each. The first playoff game ticket would be either $113 (if played in the wild card round), or $136 (if the Packers had a bye). The Championship game tickets would be $204 each. So the Packers invoiced me for $340 for each of my seats ($136 + $204) plus a $3 service charge. So a person like me had to decide whether to shell out $683 now against the slim chance that the Packers would make the playoffs.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

    • Jason Perone Jason Perone says:

      Excellent, thanks Tom. I figured there were a few details missing or off, but hopefully the general idea came across.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    • Stroh says:

      I think the time at which the playoff tickets were offered plays into this years situation. At the time coming off the shellacking the lions laid on us, and w/ Rodgers return seemingly very much up in the air it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to purchase playoff tickets. Both the loss to the lions and probably more likely the uncertainty of Rodgers really prevented a lot of people from being too interested in playoff tickets. It just didn’t seem like there was a point. They played the worst game of the year AND Rodgers uncertainty probably had quite a bit to do w/ it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  2. Joe Brown says:

    Maybe its not nefarious at all. Maybe 5 yrs of a bad economy is forcing people to make tough choices?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  3. Matt says:

    I live in Indy and the money being applied to next years tickets is true here as well. It is not a Packer decision but a NFL one I believe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Barutan Seijin says:

    I’ve sat in the end zone in the cold and seen the Packers get drubbed. It was OK when i was young, but i’m no longer indestructible. Seems like everyone in Milwaukee is sick, including myself. Sitting through the game this Sunday would probably kill me.

    The price is definitely a problem, too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. Savage57 says:

    This is the tip of the iceberg for the NFL and part of the quandary that all teams are going to face going forward. TV has made the NFL what it is and now the monster they used to create it, along with it’s henchman Technology and Content, is turning on its master.

    The value differentiation in utility the fan receives from the game experience live compared to the virtual environment they can create according to their own specifications is shrinking.

    Yeah, there’s nothing like a live playoff game to get your blood flowing, but when the elements conspire to prevent that very thing, it’s not the comparative incentive it once was with all of the advantages our leaps in technology and content have provided.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  6. David Kramer says:

    I am also a season ticket holder and I will be at the game. My nephew used my tickets for the last cold game in Green Bay and at that game the Beer lines froze up by half time. This game is forecasted to be colder. That is the real reason for the drop in Ticket demand. If Packer fans think there will be no beer available at the game — well it is Wisconsin.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    • Big O says:

      To bad they’re not selling schnapps or some other good antifreeze because it’s really going to be ICE BOWL type weather!!!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. Big T says:

    Give away Kaperdink bobble heads that say I am a whiny bitch when you smack its head. Instant sell out…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. A_Lerxst_in_Packerland says:

    Very good explanations of why there were so many tickets available by the time the Pack finally won the division and their playoff spot. I think there are some other factors with trying to move that quantity of tickets in such a short amount of time since then.

    Anyone living beyond a reasonable driving distance from Lambeau that wanted to go faced the challenges of securing lodging on short notice (and possible airfare, depending just how far away they live). From what I heard elsewhere, hotels/motels in the region were generally charging significant room fees and in many cases requiring 2 nights’ stay minimum. This can add up very quickly. I know money is no object for some, but many of us are on pretty tight budgets, especially right after the holidays. Seems like the NFL almost needs to negotiate some sort of group rate discounts, if that’s even possible.

    Weather no doubt is a factor for some as well. Let’s face it, unless you live in a cold weather location, you may not even own all of the appropriate gear needed to stay warm in the sub-zero conditions forecast.

    In the end, though, I am in full agreement that the remaining tickets will be taken care of and the game will air on local TV in Green Bay and Milwaukee.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Sum Ding Wong says:

    Lets not talk this year, it will be interesting to see how many pack fans will pony up to the bar with the humungous costs of the new Obamacare. Buying tics is an option, OCare ain’t. Do not see how someone whose plan went up $500 or more per month can keep up the season tics? And that is with a very high deductable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

    • Strider says:

      And I suppose you have proof for these idiotic assertions? What’s far worse for Packer fans is a state government that doesn’t want health care for all of it’s citizens.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Albert Lingerfeld says:

    I too want to see how the ticket holders hang on to those seats with the costs of insurance. Yes you can buy the cheap version of insurance but the deductable has to be paid and notice to pack fans: the insurance co’s can take your house, car and savings to get theirs. Read the fine print.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  11. Darlene says:

    Go pack no matter what, Come on wisconsin. We have the best. Just a hard year

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0