The legend of the waiting list for Packers season tickets in Green Bay has grown over the years. Newborns get put on the list, with parents hoping some day their offspring hits the top of the list.
Green Bay has perhaps the best fans in the NFL ... which is why the league should be very worried that the Packers and two other teams are still struggling to sell out their playoff games.
Green Bay, as of Wednesday morning, was about 8,500 tickets short of a sellout, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tom Silverstein. If the Packers don't sell out by 3:40 p.m. Thursday, the game will be blacked out on local TV from Green Bay to Milwaukee. That's almost inconceivable. The Press-Gazette said the Packers have sold out every regular-season game since 1959 (a playoff game in January of 1983, at the end of the strike-shortened season, did not). And yet they are having troubles selling out a playoff game a week after Aaron Rodgers returned from injury to beat the Bears for the NFC North title.
The Bengals produced a video with some players urging fans to buy playoff tickets, which you wouldn't think should be necessary for a NFL playoff game. Former Bengals receiver Chad Johnson said he would buy the unsold tickets, of which there are about 8,000 according to reports, but it's unclear if he was serious. As of Wednesday afternoon the Colts needed to sell 5,500 tickets for their game against the Chiefs before Thursday afternoon to become a sellout and avoid a local television blackout.
It would be a tremendous embarrassment to the league to have three of four playoff games blacked out locally, and likely, the tickets will get sold somehow to avoid that scenario. But there's a bigger issue here. Is this the most stark example that NFL fans aren't too excited to go to games anymore?
A quick glance at Ticketmaster on Wednesday afternoon showed the face-value prices for the Packers playoff game ranged from $313 and $102, not counting Ticketmaster fees. If you've attended a NFL game, you know that the cost doesn't end with tickets. Parking is outrageously and insultingly high at most NFL games. Concessions aren't cheap either. NFL teams have gouged and gouged and gouged, and maybe there's a breaking point.
It is supposed to be a high of four degrees in Green Bay on Sunday, when the Packers play the 49ers, with a low of minus-15 degrees. Would you rather spend a few hundred dollars to sit in miserable conditions or stay at home and watch on TV, where the high-definition view is a heck of a lot better than it is better than any vantage point in the stadium? It seems that more fans are asking themselves that question, especially as the in-home experience for watching games has improved with great televisions and easy access to discuss the game with friends online.
The NFL has a serious issue on its hands when three cities are struggling to sell out a playoff game, including the Packers. All three games might sell out and the local television blackout scare will be forgotten. But the NFL better not ignore what's happening this week. It's not a good sign for the future.
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