Packers season-ticket list requires patience

Want your family to get Packers season tickets? Better put your great-grandkids on the list. Today. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Eric Mangold waits for his yellow postcard to show up every year that tells him what number he is on the Green Bay Packers' season-ticket waiting list.

He signed up nine years ago and has tracked his progress on an Excel spreadsheet.

When the postcard came in the mail this week, Mangold, a financial analyst for MillerCoors who lives in Milwaukee, was discouraged.

"Unfortunately for me, the pace people have been falling off the list has slowed the last three years," said Mangold, who moved from No. 66,222 in 2005 to No. 61,444 this year.

Mangold said he gained at least 700 spots in his first five years on the list, but in each of the past three years, he hasn't even moved up 500 spots.

"The projected age I will be when I reach the top of the list is 117," Mangold said.

Even with an expansion that will add 6,500 seats next year, even that age seems conservative.

The Packers maintain the biggest season-ticket waiting list in all of sports. Sometime in the past two months, the list -- which started when the team began selling out in 1960 -- topped 100,000 names. It doesn't cost a dime to be added.

As has become tradition, the Packers send out postcards to everyone on the list, which includes people in all 50 states and Canada.

Mark Wagner, the Packers' director of ticket operations who started working for the team in 1977, said the postcards -- sent since the early 1980s -- are meant to make sure the team has the addresses right. If the postcard comes back, they wait for a year for the fan to contact them with a new address before taking him or her off the list.

Michael Hawkins, whose son Corey says he signed up in 1973, got his postcard this week with the number 226 on it. He's the closest we found to actually getting tickets.

When Hawkins is taken off the list, he'll get a user fee deposit form in the mail that offers two packages: a green package, which includes six regular-season games and one preseason game, or the gold package, which includes two regular-season games and two preseason games. The user fee is a one-time amount that costs $2,100 for the gold package and $980 for the green package.

Wagner says this year about 3,800 people will come off the list, with the average person requesting 3.35 tickets. That's the largest number of people that have come off the list in some time. In 2001 and 2002, a combined 2,600 people were taken off the list and given tickets.

The list isn't just a group of names. It's a collection of hopes and dreams that each have their own story.

There are the fathers who put their sons and daughters on the list.

Corey Hays of Eau Claire, Wis., put his son Tyler on the list in December 2009. Things aren't encouraging, as he's moved from only 82,210 to 80,954. It doesn't look good for Patrick Knipping's twin daughters either. They might have the same birthday as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but they're currently at 93,404 and 93,405 on the list.

So what's the cutoff? What year did you have to sign up to actually get tickets in your lifetime?

Judging from the numbers ESPN.com has looked at, it seems you had to get on the list before the 1996 season, a year that concluded with the Packers beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Tyler Kehoe can thank his dad Brett for that. When Kehoe was born in 1992, his dad put him on the Lambeau List. Kehoe's number he received this week? No. 11,467.

Jeff Ash of Green Bay signed up his son Evan in January 1995 when he was born. He started at 18,945, and now the 17-year-old is at 12,120.

There's just one problem.

"Evan is not much of a Packers fan," the older Ash said.

A spot on the Packers' season-ticket list is so coveted that it can be willed down to a family member and is often included in divorce agreements.

Packers fan Tim Wyngaard is about to marry into the list. Tim's fiancee, Samantha Hutchison, was put on the list by her dad almost two decades ago. She's now at No. 28,188.

"We're hoping by the time we will it to our children, it will be closer to 10,000," said Wyngaard, who lives 30 miles south of Green Bay.

Then there's me. I signed up on Sept. 9, 2006, to do stories like this and track my progress.

Since then, I've moved up from No. 73,257 to 67,433.

What does the Packers' director of ticket operations think of my chances of getting tickets in my lifetime?

"They're not too good," Wagner said.