It took 29 years and cost more than $10,000 for this Green Bay Packers fan to get season tickets. He says it's worth it.
GREEN BAY – Zachary Beckman's dad didn't want to seem obsessive, so he waited until the day after his son's birth to add him to the Green Bay Packers' season ticket waiting list.
Beckman's number came up this year, only 28 years and 350 or so days later, making him one of the favored few to move off the waiting list of more than 144,000 names and lay claim to the maximum four season tickets allowed.
The opportunity doesn't come up quickly. The Packers have about 38,000 season ticket holder accounts and renewals were more than 99%, as they normally are. This year, 830 people came off the list, some buying tickets and others deciding against it and just dropping off.
"I was lucky I got on the list before Brett Favre," said Beckman, who has a photograph of himself as a toddler being held by Favre at the Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback's second Packers training camp in 1993. After Favre helped revive the Packers' fortunes in the early 1990s, the waiting list began to grow, and still increases about 2,000 names a year.
Longtime season ticket holder Michael Kastern of Milwaukee said there was never a doubt he would renew, even after having a less-than-pleasant experience getting playoff game tickets earlier this year.
"The ability to go to the game in person does not appeal to everyone, but for me, the experience of being at the game is far better than watching on TV," said Kastern, who is a nine-game Green package ticket holder. "Saturday, I went to Fiserv Forum to watch Game 5 (of the NBA Finals) for similar reasons. When you are in the stands, surrounded by all of those fans, the emotional ups and downs are palpable.
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"It makes the highs higher and lows less low. You could go to a Packers game and close your eyes and still know what's going on in the game based on the reactions of those around you and the feel."
Beckman is familiar with that feeling. His first in-person game was in November 2000, when the Packers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 26-20 in overtime on Antonio Freeman's dramatic, laying-on-the-ground catch in the rain and run into the end zone.
"I don’t think anything beats going to a game in person. For me, it’s worth the investment," he said.
Beckman, who lives in West Allis, is a middle school teacher and football coach. His wife, Alexis, also is a teacher and a Packers fan. As first-time season ticket holders, they ponied up $11,464 for the Green package, including $8,400 in one-time user fees, and $1,176 more for his mother's Gold package tickets.
"It was something we had to overcome and save money for. You’re dropping what’s like a down payment on a house," said Beckman, who had just bought a house. "Knowing this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that helps."
Beckman will sell some of the tickets to friends and family, which should be made easier by his preferring to keep the the cold-weather games for himself.
Beckman did note that he was on the waiting list for 10,565 days. And his father, Russell, has season tickets to both the Packers and the Bears, the latter so he doesn't have to miss games when the Packers play at Soldier Field.
That's not obsessive. That's normal Packers fans.
Contact Richard Ryman at (920) 431-8342 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RichRymanPG, on Instagram at @rrymanPG or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RichardRymanPG/