GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Perhaps the most surprising thing about the playoffs this year was that three teams, including the Green Bay Packers, had trouble selling tickets.
The Packers’ situation was more surprising, considering they had a streak of 319 straight sellouts at Lambeau Field (excluding a 1982 playoff game in the strike-shortened season).
During his annual State of the League address on the Friday before the Super Bowl, commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about the problems the Packers, Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts had selling tickets to their wild-card playoff games.
“Those were mistakes that were made by us, the NFL, and our clubs,” Goodell said. “What we have to do is recognize that technology has changed and that we have to use technology more efficiently and more intelligently to make sure we don’t put our fans in that kind of position. Green Bay, as an example, sold close to 50,000 tickets over a five-day period, including New Year’s Day. We shouldn’t be in that position, and that’s on us, and we have to fix it, and we will. But that is not an indication in any way of the fans’ passion.”
While Goodell did not identify what mistakes were made, Packers president Mark Murphy did so over the weekend. In a question-and-answer piece on the team’s official website, Murphy addressed what likely was the biggest issue for season-ticket holders when it came time to buy playoff tickets late in the season.
“I would say that we made a mistake in deciding not to refund the money to fans this year for playoff games not played,” Murphy wrote. “We learned from this mistake and will have a better policy in place next year.”
The Packers told season-ticket holders than instead of their money being refunded if the playoff game did not take place, it would be credited toward their 2014 tickets.
“We had a great response to the survey, and have just started evaluating the results,” Murphy wrote. “I anticipate that we will make a number of changes and adjustments based on this feedback from our fans, including offering a “pay as we play” type of option for playoff games. With current available technology, we should be able to use this type of method as an option.”
For the playoff game, the Packers needed an extension from the league and help from corporate sponsors who purchased some of the remaining tickets to avoid a local television blackout.