Jim Hayes and his wife, Amber, are lifelong Broncos fans. They finally got season tickets in 2011 after being on the team’s waiting list since 2004. Then, in March 2017, the Hayeses were told by the team that their right to buy season tickets had been revoked. Jim shared their story on LinkedIn, and he told SB Nation why he and Amber are frustrated by the team’s decision.
Jim Hayes said that he and Amber had been married 12 years before they were finally able to become pregnant with their first child. The couple’s older son, Nolan, was born just before the 2015 season started. With a newborn at home, it just wasn’t feasible for the Hayeses to attend more than two games in 2015.
And during the 2016 season, the Hayeses were doing fertility treatments to try to have a second child. Doctors recommend that women who undergo those treatments take it easy throughout the pregnancy. With tens of thousands of fans screaming and cheering and the ups and downs of the action on the field, NFL games aren’t exactly the best place for that.
The Hayeses sold their tickets for all eight regular season home games last year to protect Amber’s health during her pregnancy, but they hoped to renew for the coming season and return to Mile High Stadium to cheer on their favorite team.
They used NFLTicketExchange.com, a resale forum promoted by the league, to sell their tickets to games in 2015 and 2016. When it came time for the Hayeses to renew their season tickets in March, the team said no.
Jim Hayes contacted the team several times to try to explain his family’s situation to the Broncos but was unable to speak with anyone who had any control over the situation.
“I sent multiple emails, then when they sent that denial, I sent another email and I said, ‘Hey, I want to speak with one of the decision makers,’ and they’re like, ‘No, it’s not possible. The decision’s final,’” Hayes told SB Nation.
The tagline for the NFL Ticket Exchange is “the official ticket exchange of the NFL.” The Broncos even have handy step-by-step instructions to make it easy for season ticket holders to sell their tickets on the site. What they don’t mention is that selling too many tickets may keep fans from being allowed to buy season tickets in the future.
An ad for the ticket resale platform is even featured prominently on the Broncos website:
The Broncos’ Director of Media Relations, Erich Schubert, confirmed to SB Nation that the team used data from NFL Ticket Exchange, as well as other secondary markets, to track the sale of tickets. Schubert said the team reviewed several years of account activity for each account, and only season ticket holders who attended zero games in 2016 were affected.
Broncos season tickets are in huge demand, with over 75,000 people currently on the team’s waiting list, according to Schubert. Weeding out ticket holders who may be less invested in the team — or who only purchase tickets to sell at a profit — seems like a good way to open up some opportunities for other fans. But the Hayeses are true Broncos fans who had valid reasons for missing games over the past two seasons.
All Jim Hayes wanted from the team was an explanation. He didn’t get one.
“I wouldn’t have written this and tried to promote it if … someone had actually called me who had made the decision and explained, ‘Hey, Jim, congratulations for having two kids. We understand this, but here’s why we’re making this decision,’” Hayes said. “But they weren’t even willing to do that. That would have avoided all of this problem with them.”
In the team’s season ticket policy, the Broncos have legally protected their ability to revoke season tickets for any reason.
“Denver Broncos season tickets are revocable licenses granted on a yearly basis at the sole discretion of the club,” Schubert told SB Nation.
Schubert said the team did this to reward loyal fans and that the team has “received overwhelmingly positive feedback” from ticket holders who were able to upgrade their seats thanks to the new policy. The Broncos were able to upgrade 10 times more season ticket holder accounts this offseason than they did last year.
Despite the frustration of not being able to renew their tickets and a lack of communication from the team to explain why, the Hayes family will continue to support the Broncos.
“There have been people who are bashing the Broncos, and I’ve been very clear, like, hey, we’re huge Broncos fans,” Jim Hayes said. “The players did not make this decision. My wife is native to Colorado. I’ve lived here since I was eight. We love the team, and we’re going to keep rooting for them.”
But even though it won’t change their love for the team, Jim and Amber Hayes are left disappointed.