Broncos season-ticket holders outraged over being 'weeded out' by team

Several Denver Broncos season-ticket holders who did not attend a game during the 2016 season had their seats revoked, according to a Denver Post report, despite many appealing to the team for their reasons why.

One season-ticket holder since 1977 cited lung surgery as his reason. Another out-of-town fan sold his tickets to support his cancer-stricken mother who has since died. All had their tickets revoked going forward despite their pleas to the team.

This is all part of the Broncos’ “weeding out” process, one that the team says is legal. The Broncos’ season-ticket policy states that every account is a license that is issued annually and can be revoked at any time.

Some Denver Broncos fans had their season tickets revoked when it was determined most of their seats were sold on the secondary market. (AP)

Broncos spokesman Patrick Smyth said the team uses technology to determine which electronic tickets hit the resale market and which are used by the owners of the tickets and that this process will put “more tickets in the hands of Denver Broncos fans.” Ninety-seven percent of tickets at Mile High Stadium are season tickets, with only 3 percent coming from single-game ticket sales.

The team has a 75,000-person waiting list for season tickets, and the revocation of some seats has allowed 144 accounts to have upgraded seats (about 400 seats total through Monday) for this coming season. Only 14 accounts and 39 seats were upgraded prior to the 2016 season, according to the team. The Broncos have the longest home sellout streak in the NFL, spanning 47 years.

Not surprisingly, some of the fans who had their tickets revoked are speaking out — and they are not happy about it.

Mike Fletcher, 69, has been a season-ticket holder for 40 years but was stripped going forward after the team said he did not attend a game in 2016. He appealed to the Broncos, saying that his collapsed lung and lung-reduction surgery forced him to sell his 2016 tickets. But the Broncos’ ticket office said all of Fletcher’s tickets from 2013 to 2016 were sold on the secondary market. Fletcher said he has proof he went to games during that period or that he gave his tickets to family members and bought a handicapped seat for himself.

Chicago resident Eric Siegler said the Broncos “pulled the rug right out from me — and hundreds of others” when they revoked his tickets. He said he sold tickets to help aid his sick mother and that he and several family members and friends wrote appeal letters after learning of the revocation. The appeal was denied, though, and the team cited Siegler as having frequently selling his tickets, including the majority of the games during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

But legally, the fans might not have much hope to have the Broncos change their minds.

The Chicago Cubs, for instance, were allowed to block a ticket broker from renewing his season tickets this year when a judge ruled that the team was within its rights to do so. The Cubs’ season-ticket terms and conditions note that their tickets are licenses that are non-renewable and revocable at any time without “reasonable expectation of a guaranteed renewal of the License nor any right or privilege, implied or otherwise, to renew the License.” The wording is very similar to what the Broncos’ season-ticket policy reads.

Some fans might ask where the line can be drawn to have their tickets revoked, especially in a town where they’re extremely hard to come by — or expensive. But the Broncos’ view is that the decisions made by the team were done largely to “reward our loyal season ticket holders, upgrade many of them, make tickets available on the waiting list and increase our very limited single-game ticket allotment,” per Smyth.

Smyth noted that some fans’ appeals were granted, such as in the cases of health-related or military absences. He added: “Careful consideration was given to each inquiry, including a review of previous account activity and any documentation that may have been provided.”

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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