From their first contest against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football at what was then Reliant Stadium nineteen (19) years ago, your Houston Texans have proudly proclaimed that they have sold out every home game. It didn’t matter whether the team was good; year after year, Houston fans showed up to watch the Texans play. It appears that will change this season.
Back in early March—after Deshaun Watson requested a trade but before reports of the sexual assault allegations against him became public—I wondered how the vaunted wait list for Texans season tickets would be impacted by what was shaping up to be far and away the worst offseason in franchise history.
Last time I checked, there were reportedly 28,000 names on the wait list for #Texans season tickets. How many names do you think will be left on that wait list when the 2021 season starts?— battleredblog (@battleredblog) March 4, 2021
I got several informative responses to that query, and they uniformly indicated a significant culling of the thousands of interested fans who wanted to become season ticket holders.
Considering I moved up almost 7 thousand places, that list is dwindling FAST— Mauricio Rios (@mrios281) March 4, 2021
My number literally cut in half. It has never moved like this from what I remember. I’ve been on this list for yearssss. pic.twitter.com/iG16719PM8— Chijioke (@QuincyU_) March 4, 2021
So close but I do t even care anymore. I’m a Cardinals fan now. pic.twitter.com/dQiYtUbRgv— Restelly Quist (@RestellyQuist) March 4, 2021
And I sure don’t want them if they get to me!! pic.twitter.com/VPvIbSYm7M— Amy Rouse (@amy_rouse) March 4, 2021
That was about three months ago, and it’s not like the outlook for the Texans in 2021 has gotten brighter since then. In fact, according to Jerome Solomon’s latest column in the Houston Chronicle, pessimism in the franchise is so stout that he moved up more than 12,700 spots on the wait list in a matter of weeks.
Back in 2011, I decided it would be a good time to put my big-time, newly adjusted columnist salary to use on Texans’ season tickets. (Note to self: To avoid Chron bosses’ confusion over whether the salary mention is a joke, consider inserting a ROTFLMAO emoji here.)
The team was horrendous on defense the year before, but the defensive whisperer Wade Phillips was coming to town. When an NFL team’s defensive album sales aren’t doin’ too good, he’s the doctor they tell you to go see.
So, finally, the Texans’ fortunes were about to turn.
Turned out, 10 years ago, you couldn’t just walk up and buy Texans season tickets. I was put on a waiting list with a huge number.
The next year, the Texans sold a then-record number of season tickets, and had a waitlist of more than 19,000. I wasn’t first, so I was last.
By 2018, my waitlist number was 16,316. No chance.
A couple weeks ago, I was informed that my wait-list number was 12,734. No chance. (And whew.)
Oh, but I was wrong.
After going through season ticket renewals to see how many seats were still available and reaching out to 12,733 others in line before me, the Texans emailed to tell me I was first in line.
Solomon, like thousands of other fans on the wait list, chose to pass on the opportunity to acquire season tickets for the upcoming season. There are of course many reasons that have nothing to do with the on-field product that a fan could cite as justification to decline paying for season tickets, particularly in a year where a global pandemic wreaked havoc on disposable income for individuals and families.
But the Texans shouldn’t use COVID-19 to wave away this flashing neon sign of plummeting interest in their fan base. Surely there was a sizable contingent of the wait list who punted on making a financial commitment predominantly, if not entirely, because of the state of the franchise and the virtual certainty that the 2021 Houston Texans are going to be a horrible football team. Additionally, it stands to reason that thousands of existing season ticket holders, many of whom have supported the organization with their wallets since its inception, chose not to renew their season tickets in 2021, thus creating the opening for those on the wait list to become newly minted season ticket holders.
Nature may abhor a vacuum, but this massive shift in the attitudes of Texans fans says we don’t. For the first time in franchise history, as the team prepares to embark upon the twentieth year of NFL competition, it’s difficult to imagine full stands at NRG Stadium. I can’t see the sellout streak continuing, and it may (will?) end as soon as September 12th when the Jaguars open up their regular season in Houston.
Do you think acres of empty seats will send any sort of message to the McNair family? Or is this simply a drop in the bucket that won’t matter to the people making decisions at NRG Park?