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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.[1]

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 2014, and the league followed suit by suspending its blackout policy for 2015.


Personal seat licenses (PSLs)Edit

A personal seat license (PSL) 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.[2]

Criticism related to waiting listsEdit

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.[3]

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.[4]

Lengthiest waiting listsEdit

Annual postcard sent out by the Green Bay Packers organization to those on the waiting list for season tickets

The Green Bay Packers have the longest waiting list, with more than 100,000 names. The team's website says the wait is 30 years.[5] 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.[6][7][8] Transfer of standing to surviving relatives is permitted by the Packers.[5]

The Washington Redskins were reported to have the longest waiting list, with more than 150,000 names. However, recent investigations question whether a waiting list exists at all,[9] which would seem to be contradicted by the fact that FedExField demolished 10,000 seats heading into the 2011 season, and has since removed many upper deck sections. The New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Denver Broncos historically have also maintained long waiting lists for season tickets.[1]

Waiting listsEdit

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[10] None No
Atlanta Falcons 2008 No waiting list[11] Unknown Yes[12]
Baltimore Ravens 2004[13] 3000 20 years[14] Yes
Buffalo Bills N/A 0[15][16] None No
Carolina Panthers N/A No Waiting List None Yes
Chicago Bears 1985 Unknown Unknown Yes, PSL purchase optional
Cincinnati Bengals N/A No waiting list None Yes
Cleveland Browns 2019 5000 Unknown No
Dallas Cowboys N/A No waiting list None Yes AT&T Stadium only
Denver Broncos Unknown 84,000+[17] 15 years No
Detroit Lions N/A No waiting list None No
Green Bay Packers 1960 133,000[18] 30 years Yes (One-time, $2,100 per seat—Green Package. One-time, $900 per seat—Gold Package.)
Houston Texans 2002 28,000[19] 4 years Yes
Indianapolis Colts 2013 Unknown[20] Unknown No
Jacksonville Jaguars N/A No waiting list None No
Kansas City Chiefs N/A No waiting list None No
Los Angeles Chargers 2017 Unknown Unknown Yes
Los Angeles Rams N/A No waiting list None Yes
Miami Dolphins N/A No waiting list None No
Minnesota Vikings 2013 unknown 1 year Yes
New England Patriots 1994 60,000[21] 15 years No
New Orleans Saints 2006 100,000[22] Unknown No
New York Giants 1976 70,000[23] 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 2016[24] Unknown Unknown No
Philadelphia Eagles 2002 86,000 Unknown Yes
Pittsburgh Steelers 1972 Unknown Unknown Yes
San Francisco 49ers N/A No waiting list None Yes, Levi's Stadium only
Seattle Seahawks 2012 68,000[25] 30 years Yes
Tampa Bay Buccaneers N/A No waiting list None No
Tennessee Titans Unknown 22,000 2 years Yes
Washington Redskins N/A None None No


  1. ^ a b Sherman, Lauren (2007-09-07). "Toughest NFL Waiting Lists -". Forbes.
  2. ^ Mascarenhas, Rohan (2010-08-17). "New Meadowlands Stadium opens to Giants, Jets fans in East Rutherford". The Star-Ledger. Newark. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  3. ^ Mohl, Bruce (2005-02-25). "Season ticket transfer fees irk fans". The Boston Globe.
  4. ^ Angelo F. Coniglio v. Highwood Services, Inc., 495 F.2d 1286 (2d Cir. 1974-04-17).
  5. ^ a b " FAQ".
  6. ^ - Fan Zone - Faq - Tickets Archived 2010-03-18 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ File:Waitlist Postcard.jpg
  8. ^ " - Be the 74,659th In Line! - Oct 9, 2007". CNN. 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  9. ^ Farmer, Liz (2011-09-01). "Redskins season ticket waiting list is a mystery to fans, sports experts". The Washington Examiner.
  10. ^ "NFL Season Ticket Waiting Lists: Which Teams Have Them & Which Wish They Did". 2017-03-09.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Falcons' PSL sales reach $233 million". 2017-05-10.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ The Bills' waiting list takes effect when 60,000 tickets have been sold.[1], [2]
  16. ^ Bills sell 58,500 season tickets
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Kevin Clark (July 2, 2012). "Game Changer: NFL Scrambles to Fill Seats". The Wall Street Journal.
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Oakland Raiders | 2018 Season Ticket Priority Waitlist". Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  25. ^ "Seahawks request road game in London because of long wait for season ticket". 2016-03-08.