In the hours before last night’s game at FedEx Field, Redskins fans could walk up to the box office and purchase pairs of tickets, even as the team announced their 354th consecutive sellout.
Reporting the bizarre situation in his Washington Post blog, Dan Steinberg seemed surprised, and ultimately disappointed, that the game counted towards the sellout streak. Sellouts, he writes, should be accompanied by a frown-face stuck on a closed ticket gate.
Actually, that’s not how it works in the NFL. In most stadiums around the country, you can purchase day-of-game tickets to reported sellouts. Usually these tickets are available because they were allotted to sponsors, opponents, or some other entity, that decided they weren’t going to use them.
We called the Green Bay Packers, who have sold out every home game since 1960 and boast a season-ticket waiting list 81,000 strong (at a turnover rate of about 50 per season), to see if we could buy tickets for their next home date through the box office.
At first, the nice lady on the other side of the phone said no. But then she explained that sometimes extra sponsor or league tickets become available on Thursday or Friday. She warned that there’s no way to be sure of their availability, or of how many can be purchased. It all depends on the game, the opponent, the weather, and even the time of day.
Regardless, it goes to show you that a sellout is just one in name only. Walk up to your local, “sold out” box office, and you’ll often find tickets available for purchase. Teams rack up sellouts as empty seats beckon.
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