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GREEN BAY – Nearly twice as many names as usual will come off the Green Bay Packers season ticket waiting list this year, the result of normal turnover and the team redistributing some excess tickets they took back from a handful of fans.
More than 99% of the Packers' 38,000 season ticket holders renew their seats every year, which results in about 70-100 new ticket buyers. The team has a waiting list of 140,000 for 81,441-seat Lambeau Field, which means a long time on the list.
Cory Vogel of Green Bay was put on the list when he was 2. He's 51 now and recently accepted an offer for Gold package tickets.
"I was pretty excited. It was a long time in waiting," he said. "My parents had seats in the same section."
The Packers this year reclaimed excess tickets from a handful of season ticket holders who the team said had a large number of tickets that were being used for commercial rather than personal purposes.
"The team made the determination to not renew a selection of tickets of a handful of ticketholders who held a significant number of tickets that were primarily being resold on a regular basis above face value," said Aaron Popkey, director of public affairs. "Packers season tickets are intended to be used by the ticketholder, including family and others, to attend the game. The tickets identified and not renewed were simply being resold for a profit. It was a pattern that existed for years."
Popkey said more than 100 additional names will come off the waiting list as a result.
How many names come off the list depends on how many tickets each new ticket holder chooses to buy. It remains a fluid process until all the tickets are spoken for.
The larger than usual number of people being offered tickets was great news for Michelle Hensel, 49, of Sobieski, who ended a 47-year wait. Hensel also was put on the list by her parents when she was two.
"Every year, I’d be so excited to get my card in the mail from the Packers," she said. "Last year I was 125 on the list. I said it’s got to be soon."
But she knew this year wasn't a guarantee. She remembers one year when only 40 people came off the list. Also, she was holding out for Green package tickets, which Popkey said tend to turn over more slowly than Gold packages.
About 75% of people whose names come up buy tickets, Popkey said. The other 25% no longer want to buy tickets, have died or cannot be found.
At some point during the process, say when they get to about 75,000 on the list, fans are asked whether they'd like to be in the Green or Gold package queue.
The Gold package costs between $236 and $312, depending on seat location, plus the one-time seat license fee of $900. This year, Gold package includes two regular-season games. Because of the NFL's unbalanced 17-game schedule, the Gold package could include two games, like this year, one preseason and two regular-season games, or three regular-season games.
Green packages this year cost between $800 and $1,014 for one preseason and six-regular season games, plus a one-time $2,100 user fee. In some years, the Green package will include seven regular-season games and no preseason game. Preseason games cost about half as much as regular-season games.
Gold package listers tend to climb more quickly, but in 2013 the Packers added nearly 8,000 seats to Lambeau Field, which moved everybody up.
Vogel opted for the Gold package in hopes of more quickly ending his 49 years of waiting for tickets of his own.
"I didn’t think I was ever going to come up. On the (Green) list, I’m 4,000-some. When the opportunity came up for the Gold list, I jumped ship," he said.
Vogel's sisters also are on the waiting list, but they chose to hold out for Green package tickets. They'll likely be there for a while.
Because she knew it was coming soon, Hensel said she'd been saving to pay for the seat license fee and season tickets.
"I was not giving them up," she said.
Her parents, who were on the list 32 years themselves, shared their tickets with other family members and Hensel will do the same.
"We'd go to games when we could. I'd opt to stay back and let my kids go on my parents' tickets. This season, it’s going to be a different story," she said.
She did give up her ticket to the Dallas Cowboys game to her brother-in-law, a huge Packers fan who lives in St. Louis, but she kept the home opener against the Chicago Bears.
"The home opener is going to be awesome. They are going to be my tickets and they’re playing the Bears," she said.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Packers season tickets awarded to fans who waited nearly 50 years