The due date for Lara Davidson’s grandson was still 15 weeks away when the unborn child got on the waiting list to become a Denver Broncos season tickets holder.
On May 22, Davidson paid $25 for a “Born in Bronco Country Newborn Club” package: a Broncos beanie, a commemorative birth certificate, a set of Broncos-themed monthly milestone markers, a night light, a baby basics booklet and an email letting her know that her grandson, the future Reed Dail Sandvig, expected to be born in a few weeks, had been put on the waiting list.
He was No. 77,716.
The waiting list to become a Broncos season ticket holder, which now includes infants, adults and anyone in between, has grown so large it outnumbers the populations of cities like Loveland (74,461), Broomfield (64,788) and Grand Junction (63,775). The estimated wait time has swelled to 10-15 years. The Broncos’ waiting list is not the largest in the NFL — the Green Bay Packers’ list includes an estimated 131,000 people — but there are more people on it than the capacity of Mile High Stadium (76,125).
The journey to obtain the Rocky Mountain region’s most coveted ticket can take a long time. But those who’ve finally got them and others still on the list say the wait is worth it.
“Honestly, I forgot I was on the list.”
Marquette Beasley had some down time at work when he first applied for Broncos season tickets in 2002. He was still in the military at the time, working as a jet engine mechanic. Beasley, a Colorado Springs native, had been a Broncos fan for as long as he could remember. He was poking around the team’s website one night when he decided to take the plunge.
“I wasn’t thinking about if there was a waiting list or not,” Beasley said. “Looking at the site, there was no, ‘Hey, this is how long the wait is.’ So I just signed up. When I signed up, I basically forgot about it.”
Ten years later, Beasley got a call out of the blue.
“I got a phone call that said my number was up,” he said. “That’s when I remembered I signed up for tickets. The wait was 10 years. Honestly, I forgot I was on the list.”
Beasley’s military service was over by then. During the 10-year wait, he and his wife had had four more kids to bring their grand total to seven. Two weeks before the call came, he’d moved his family back to Colorado.
“I was completely surprised,” he said. “And the girl was like, ‘Yeah, you’ve got two weeks to let us know if you want them or not. And I was like, ‘Do you take Visa?’ I did it right then and there on the phone.”
Beasley became a season ticket holder in May 2012, he said, after a decade of inching up the list. He has four tickets in section 521. He brings his kids most of the time. Because there are only four tickets and seven little Beasleys, it takes three games for dad to bring each of them at least once. Tickets to playoff games, which season ticket holders can purchase before they go on sale to the general public, are reserved for Beasley and his wife.
“I got my tickets right in time for Peyton Manning to show up,” said Beasley, who’s watched the Broncos go 59-21 in the regular season, make four playoff appearances and win one Super Bowl in the last five years. “Honestly, I remember talking to someone about it. I think the only reason I got them when I got them was because of the Tebow years.”
“If I get them the last year before I die, it’ll be worth it.”
Cañon City’s Austin Scott registered to get on the waiting list following the 2011 season, a couple months before Peyton Manning came aboard. It’s been six years now, and there are still 28,499 people ahead of him, a representative in the Broncos ticket office told him earlier this month.
Scott, who’s 35 and works in security, is looking at anywhere between five to seven years more of wait time.
“It sucks, but it’ll be worth it,” he said. “If I get them the last year before I die, it’ll be worth it.”
Alex Kovalchik is just hoping to be able to purchase tickets by 2030. The 27-year-old, who lived in Denver when he was a kid and is now located in Montana, got on the waiting list in March 2016. He was No. 78,494 when he checked earlier this month.
Kovalchik wants to “get them back into the family,” he said.
His great grandmother had season tickets for years when the Broncos played at the old Mile High Stadium, as did his grandfather. Kovalchik has fuzzy memories of attending games there. He was in attendance when Jason Elam knocked through a then-record 63-year-yard field goal against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1998.
Both Scott and Kovalchik said they were supportive of the Broncos’ decision in March to revoke season ticket privileges from anyone who sold all of their season tickets on the electronic resale market in 2016.
“I think it’s a good thing because there are obviously that many people on the waiting list,” Scott said. “Just selling all of them is a crock of shit.”
Doing so allowed the Broncos to reward some season ticket holders who attended at least one game last year to upgrade their seats in addition to freeing up more season tickets for fans who’d waited patiently for the opportunity to purchase them.
The process would put “more tickets in the hands of Denver Broncos fans,” team spokesman Patrick Smyth told the Denver Post in May.
Booting season ticket holders who didn’t attend a single game in 2016 has undoubtedly helped die-hard fans move up the list. But there are some who say the team’s weeding-out process was flawed and unjustly cost those who’d already done their time on the list their tickets.
“I don’t think they thought this was going to be a big deal.”
Jim Hayes of Littleton purchased Broncos season tickets in 2011 after a seven-year wait. He and his wife, Amber, attended more than half of the team’s home games every year from 2011-14. In 2015, due to the birth of their first child, they attended two. Last year, the Hayeses didn’t make it to a Broncos game because Amber was going through fertility treatment.
On March 10, Hayes received an email from the team informing him that his season tickets had been revoked. “After careful review and consideration of your account activity, we have determined that you did not personally use your tickets for even a single game in 2016,” the email read.
Hayes called the Broncos ticket office to try to explain his situation. He was not a season ticket holder looking to make a profit off the resale market, he stressed; he and his wife were dealing with a health issue and a small child at home that prevented them from getting away even for five or six hours on Sundays.
“There’s a lot of like, ‘For the first X months you have to take shots and medication,” Hayes said of the fertility treatment process. “That and having a 1-year-old also, it’s not conducive to attending a game.”
A Broncos representative in the ticket office told Hayes the team was accepting only written appeals. So again Hayes followed up with an email detailing his situation. On April 27, he received another message from the team. Here was the email, which Hayes forwarded to Denverite:
Frustrated that he’d again appeared to have gotten an automated response, Hayes called into the ticket office several more times in an attempt to get an explanation from a human. That got Hayes nowhere.
In a last-gasp effort to get his tickets back, Hayes emailed a senior official in the Broncos ticket office. Hayes explained once more why he couldn’t attend a game in 2016 — with a 1-year-old at home, and his wife undergoing fertility treatment.
The Broncos senior ticket official emailed Hayes back: “Thanks for your email. As stated in the previous email, the review process is complete and the decision is final. During the review we also looked at past activity on the account as well, including playoffs. Based on the history of this account the decision stood.”
“I don’t think they thought this was going to be a big deal,” Hayes said. “I think they thought they were going to make the decision, and I don’t think they considered that there would be actual fans who would be losing tickets.”
The Broncos said in a statement to Denverite this week they made exceptions for season ticket holders who were “affected by military deployment and personal health reasons,” though it’s unclear how many exceptions were made.
“Careful consideration was given to each inquiry regarding affected season-ticket accounts, including a review of previous account activity and any documentation that may have been provided,” the Broncos statement read.
Hayes said he understands why the team booted certain season ticket holders who didn’t go to a game last year. Hayes just wishes he got the chance for a human being to hear him out about why he and his wife didn’t use their tickets.
“It’s good to get rid of ticket scalpers,” Hayes said. “I totally get that approach. My issue is they have the manpower to handle (human) interactions with people. They treated it like it was a massive amount of people when it was not. They could’ve handled it over a week.”
“I guess that my new grandson could have a choice. But probably not.”
The Davidsons’ living room doubles as a shrine to their favorite team. Strung up around the room are blue and orange Christmas lights. On the walls hang Broncos flags, Broncos pennants, Broncos license plates, Broncos jerseys, a Broncos clock and Broncos pictures. Next to the the TV, which the Davidsons gather around every Sunday to watch the Broncos, is a cardboard cutout of Peyton Manning with a sign hung around his neck that reads, “Omaha! Omaha! Hurry! Hurry!”
“We call it our Bronco Cave,” Davidson said. “Even the dashboard Jesus in my car is decorated as a Denver Bronco.”
The Davidsons moved from Westminster to Washington state 28 years ago. They brought their team with them. Every year, they purchase the DirecTV Sunday Ticket Package to make sure they don’t miss a Broncos game. Being a Broncos fan isn’t exactly a requirement in the Davidson family. But it’s close.
“I guess that my new grandson could have a choice as well,” Davidson said. “But probably not.”
If Davidson’s grandson does purchase the season tickets he’s on the waiting list for years from now, he will follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather Dail Davidson, who was a season ticket holder in the ’60s. The Davidsons still hold on to the receipt for the lone season ticket he bought in 1969. He was account number 15711-5. The total cost to attend every home game that year was $46.20.
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