Last week was not a good week. Really not. Until Friday. It got a WHOLE lot better on Friday. Like “I’ve been waiting for this letter to arrive in the mail for 20 years and it’s finally here” better…
A little background… Here in Wisconsin we have three things to keep us happy… Beer, cheese and Green Bay Packer football. Order of happiness garnered from those three varies from person to person, but it’s a pretty constant list. For most of us, we sit at home enjoying the beer and the cheese while watching our beloved Pack on tv. For a select few, the occasional ticket can be found to go to the stadium. While numerically it might not be so few, the stadium holds a bit over 70,000, the reality is it’s only the elite who get to make this pilgrimage on a regular basis. In this case, elite doesn’t have anything to do with your annual income or trust-fund status, it simply means you’re one of the lucky ones.
You see, Lambeau Field has been sold out for every home game since the early 1960s. And by sold out, I mean sold all but exclusively through season ticket packages with a waiting list for ticket holders that currently reaches well beyond the capacity of the stadium. Literally. If you put your name on the season ticket waiting list today and tomorrow every single ticket holder surrendered their seats, you’d only move 1/3-1/2 way up the list.
So anyway, my parents put themselves on the waiting list for a pair of tickets in the early 70s. We aren’t sure of the exact date, only that my brother WAS born but I was not, which leaves a window of somewhere between, say, 1970 and 1973. We think it was on the early side. For a long time we were content to know they were on the list. We know the wait is long but like a good aged cheddar, the best things in life are worth waiting for. So we waited. Somewhere around the mid-point of my college career we got a bit less patient. It had been 20+ years and it was starting to feel ridiculous. So mom called. We were somewhere around 2500.
This is when I started to care. Because before college, I could have found pretty much ANYTHING else to do on a Sunday and been happier than watching any football. But I went to school just outside of Green Bay, a small little college called Saint Norbert College. Which happens to be the Packer’s home away from home during training camp each August. It was during these years that I caught the bug. Got my first jersey the summer before my Sophomore year. Went to my first game the next summer- only preseason but my best friend and I couldn’t have been happier. Later that season mom sent me a couple of games on video tape as I was in Japan doing a semester of study abroad. I caught some American Football, but not usually my Packers so when there was a big game, she’d send it to me and I’d go to extreme measures to avoid finding out the score. Luckily the internet was still in it’s infancy so it wasn’t that hard to avoid! By my senior year of college there was no doubt about it, I was hooked. An addiction was born and there was no turning back.
For the next couple of years I lived in Green Bay and scored some pretty excellent access to games thanks to the former America’s Pack fan club and my uncle. Actual field passes to several games and tickets pretty regularly thanks to people I knew. But then I moved away.
The move was worth it, being that it was thanks to meeting my other half and all, but still, my lack of season ticket access through my parents was felt more deeply. And the years continued to tick by. Eventually mom and dad became permanent residents of FL so they decided to gift their place on the wait list to Mr.Me and I. So for the last 5 years or so, I’ve anxiously stalked the mail man each September waiting for the post card notifying me of my current position. There was a time in the 90s where the average seats (Not ticket packages, SEATS) given up each year was around 12. So the climb was still long. Best case scenario was I was still looking at a 20 year wait. I’m not getting any younger here, folks, so that was brutal.
But then a couple years ago the Packers announced plans for another expansion at Lambeau Field. 6,000 more seats would be added if the expansion was approved by the owners, the stadium district and the NFL. The owners were a no brainer- they are us and we are all in favor of things that will open up more tickets! Everyone else was on board and the expansion was approved. A stock sale was held to fund it- the Packers are the NFL’s only community owned team- the fans own the team through several stock sales that have been held over the years. $200 got me a piece of paper last Christmas that says I am an NFL owner. I find great comedy in the fact that it’s easier to own an NFL team than to get tickets in the case of Green Bay!
So to make a long story longer, this expansion was a really REALLY good thing for me. Because when I got my post card last fall, I was #383 on the list. So no matter how you do the math, there was absolutely no way I couldn’t get my tickets! That post card alone was like winning the lottery. It meant all I needed to do now was wait for the expansion to be completed….
On Friday it finally happened! I got the letter. THE letter… This one
The one that says come September, I will be planting my flag in section 101, row 38, seats 5 and 6. For as long as I can afford to pay the ticket price, these seats are MINE! Well…After I send them a really big check for the seat licensing fee.
Honestly. I don’t think I have ever been so happy to part with a four figure check in my life!
Of course it does present one issue… It means I have to go to a preseason game. I really don’t much love preseason, but I can’t sell off the first set of tickets that are mine all mine no you can’t have them get your grabby hands off my tickets MINE !
Ahh…. first world problems!