In 1959, Dwight Eisenhower was president, no one had heard of the Beatles yet, and the Packers were playing to sold-out crowds at Lambeau Field. Fast forward nearly 60 years and the only two surviving Beatles are in their late 70s, Ike is a footnote in history, and the Packers are still playing to sold-out crowds at Lambeau. The most dramatic sellout streaks can span generations and even lifetimes, and they galvanize teams and unify fans. Some attendance records cluster around dynasty franchises, while others seem to last forever no matter how the team performs. Either way, one truth is undeniable: When it comes to the business of sports, capacity crowds are always welcome.
Denver Broncos — Longest Active NFL Sellout Streak
Number of games: 400+
When the streak started: 1970
The Denver Broncos are synonymous with Mile High Stadium, a venue that has been filled to capacity for 400 games in a row over the course of nearly half a century and a location change. Today the Broncos play at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and they’re still selling it out. During that time, fans were treated to 26 postseason games. They also watched the Broncos set records for most wins over two seasons, as well as the most wins over three seasons. The team took eight trips to the Super Bowl, five of which were helmed by iconic Denver quarterback-turned-GM John Elway, who won two championships back-to-back in the late 1990s.
Green Bay Packers — Longest NFL Sellout Streak of All Time
Number of games: Unknown
Streak duration: 1959-present (but only at Lambeau Field)
Few teams embody the sport of football more wholly than the Green Bay Packers — but the legendary franchise has always been an NFL oddity. First of all, it’s the only publicly owned team with fans that double as shareholders. It’s also probably among the only teams that encourage fans to bring sleeping bags to the stadium and remind them about the warning signs of hypothermia before games.
The Packers also stand out, however, for their astonishing 58-year sellout streak, which has endured from 1959 to the present. That would be enough to crush any other attendance record across all sports by a mile — yet the Broncos hold the current record. That’s because for 41 years between 1953 and 1994, the Packers played three home games a year at Milwaukee County Stadium to placate the legions of loyal Cheeseheads who call that city home. Therefore, the 58-year record only applies to the Packers’ current full-time home — the iconic Lambeau Field. Lambeau is iconic but it’s not the most expensive stadium to attend a game.
Dallas Mavericks — Longest Active NBA Sellout Streak
Number of games: 656
When the streak started: 2001
In one of the NBA’s great paradoxes, however, Dallas boasts the best attendance in basketball — an average of 102.8 percent per game, to be exact. The contradiction can be credited partly to the passion of the famed basketball city that the team calls home, but another element is owner Mark Cuban’s propensity for selling cheap tickets — or buying them and donating them to charity — when the team doesn’t perform well enough to fill seats on their own. Cuban knows what he’s doing — adapt his traits and think like a billionaire.
Portland Trail Blazers — Longest NBA Sellout Streak of All Time
Number of games: 814
Streak duration: 1977-1995
In 2011, a Class A Midwest League baseball team called the Dayton Dragons sold out 815 games in a row to claim the consecutive sellout record for all of professional sports. The team the Dragons eclipsed was the Portland Trail Blazers, which in the 1970s was synonymous with names like Jack McCloskey and Bill Walton. In 1977, after just seven years in the league, the Trail Blazers won the championship — and their fans paid them back by selling out every home game for the next 18 years. In 2007, a little more than a decade after their historic run ended, the Trail Blazers would begin another impressive streak. This time the team went on to sell out 195 home games in a row, a streak that ended in 2012.
Pittsburgh Penguins — Longest Active NHL Sellout Streak
Number of games: 574
When the streak started: 2007-present
In 2007, the Penguins were a stumbling franchise that was poised to leave Pittsburgh. Then they moved out of their crumbling stadium and began building a new facility that’s now widely considered one of the best in hockey. They also hired a new team president and presented to fans a new crop of stars headed by Sidney Crosby, who has gone on to become the greatest forward of the modern era. The fans got on board when times were tough, and they continue to fill the stadium now that it’s easy to be a Penguins fan: Pittsburgh became the first team in nearly two decades to win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.
Pittsburgh Penguins — Longest NHL Sellout Streak of All Time
Number of games: 574
Streak duration: 2007-present
In 2005, Michael Therrien was hired as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby became an alternate captain, ushering the beginning of a new era for the struggling franchise. The Penguins wouldn’t struggle for long, though. Beginning in 2007 — the same year as the sellout streak started, coincidentally enough — Pittsburgh hockey fans were treated to an unbroken chain of annual playoff appearances that continued through the two most recent seasons, which culminated in the Penguins winning their fourth and fifth franchise Stanley Cups.
San Francisco Giants — Most Recent MLB Sellout Streak
Number of games: 530
Streak duration: 2010-2017
In 2017, the San Francisco Giants did not play well, but they did boast the longest active sellout streak in baseball and the second-longest sellout streak of all time. The streak, which consisted of 530 regular-season games plus 25 postseason appearances, dated back to 2010, when the Giants won their first World Series in San Francisco with a moderately priced payroll. Seven years later, the team was a shell of its former self, and it all came crashing down in July 2017 when the lowly Giants blew a lead and dropped yet another game, this time to the Cleveland Indians.
Boston Red Sox — Longest Sellout Streak of All Time
Number of games: 820
Streak duration: 2003-2013
In the 10 years between 2003 and 2013, 29,067,339 people paid for seats in Fenway Park. Those 29.1 million fans represent the longest sellout streak in baseball history. During that time, the Red Sox went to the playoffs six times, won two pennants, one division title and two World Series. The streak, however, was mired in controversy, with several prominent publications accusing the Sox of padding attendance statistics. Controversial or not, the streak is in the books.
Duke Blue Devils — Longest Active College Basketball Sellout Streak
Number of games: 445
When the streak started: 1990
The Mavericks might claim the longest streak in the NBA, but when you include the NCAA, basketball’s longest run of sold-out home games goes to the Duke Blue Devils, who have played in front of capacity crowds since Mike Tyson was the world heavyweight boxing champion and the Soviet Union got its first McDonald’s. Not only does Duke consistently fill every seat at home, but the Blue Devils also boast the best away attendance in the ACC, the second-best attendance on neutral courts and the No. 4 best attendance overall for nonconference games.
Duke Blue Devils — Longest College Basketball Sellout Streak of All Time
Number of games: 445
Streak duration: 1990-present
Duke made it to the championship game the year its sellout streak began in 1990, but the team didn’t win. The two following years, however, the team repaid its fans for their loyalty by not only making it to the championship game, but winning it all. They beat Kansas for the championship in 1991 and defeated Michigan in 1992. Dominating the decade, Duke made it to the championship again in 1994 and 1999. Their 21st-century fans don’t have much to complain about either. Duke won the national championship in 2001, 2010 and 2015.
Nebraska Cornhuskers — Longest Active College Football Sellout Streak
Number of games: 368
When the streak started: 1962
The last time Huskers fans could buy a ticket at the Memorial Stadium box office at game time, the team’s opponent was Kansas State — and John F. Kennedy was president. A few weeks later on Nov. 3, 1962, the Huskers played Missouri to a sellout crowd. The storied franchise has sold out every single home game since and the streak has become a central part of Husker lore. It has endured through three eras of the team’s history: the Big Eight, Big 12 and Big 10 periods.
Nebraska Cornhuskers — Longest College Football Sellout Streak of All Time
Number of games: 368
Streak duration: 1962-present
In the annals of NCAA football sellout streaks, the reigning champion and the all-time champion are the same team. The Nebraska Cornhuskers capacity attendance record is in its sixth decade and has endured the tenures of six head coaches. During that time, the Huskers have won 22 conference championships and five national championships, and produced three Heisman Trophy winners.
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About the Author
Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street’s investment community in New York City.