Imagine being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan and dreaming of having season tickets for years, then one day you get a letter reminding you that you’re on the coveted waiting list. For many, it would be cause for celebrating, but for Jacqui Banner, it was like having her dream slightly out of reach.
Banner’s biological father had signed up to be on the waiting list for season tickets in 1965 when her brother was born. Unknown to her, every year a renewal letter would be sent to her family home and was returned with the answer of yes.
Two years ago, Banner first found out about the renewal letters being sent. She enquired if the name on the waitlist could be transferred over to her, seeing that she was a bigger fan than her brother and biological father.
“I’ve been a fan since July 17, 1967,” Banner said jokingly, the date of her birthday.
Banner grew up, like many Torontonians, as a die-hard Leafs fan. Every Saturday night she would watch the game with her brother and her grandfather. She rarely misses a game, going to about three or four per year when she can afford to get tickets.
With consent from her biological father, the transfer was approved by the Leafs. The shock came when Banner contacted the Leafs and found out her current position on the list.
“I e-mailed the Leafs, and was told that I was 5,576 on the list, which came as a shock that after 40 years I still could be so low down on the list,” she said.
In the e-mail reply sent to Banner, Lara Brown, coordinator services for Maple Leafs sports, said the organization cannot account for what was done 40 years ago.
“Unfortunately, no formal process was ever in place, this is the first time,” she said
“The list started in the Gardens, they had binders and binders of hand-written requests that had to be sent in every year in order to stay on the list.”
The e-mail also said information from the binders were put into an electronic database.
Rajani Kamath, Director, Corporate Communications for Maple Leafs Sports offered the Observer some clarification on the email sent to Banner.
Kamath says that currently the list sits around 2,500 people and is updated yearly.
“We contact fans on the list to make sure their information is up-to-date and that they still wish to be on the list.”
Kamath also says that like Banner if anyone has correspondence identifying where they were on the list at a particular time, and feels that their current position could be wrong, they could contact Maple Leafs Sports to see their position requires adjusting.
“There are not many people who choose not to renew their season ticket.
said Kamath. “Some choose to sell or transfer their tickets, but mostly they are passed down through a family.”
According to Kamath, annual only one or two seats may become available to offers to those waiting on the list. Which means if you were the last name in the list, it could take until the year 3259 before any of your descendants would be offered tickets.
This is no surprise to Banner’s friend Jim Hughes, whose family has had season tickets since 1931.
“My great-aunt had done some accounting work for the Leafs when the Gardens was being built, and as compensation she was given season tickets,” Hughes said.
Hughes was given the tickets from his father when he was 22. The value of the tickets to his family today is priceless.
“They are a family asset and I hope it will stay in my family for generations to come.
Banner has since asked to be moved up on that list. She was told there are roughly 2,500 people ahead of her.
“I bleed blue,” says Banner. “Win, lose or draw, they are still my Leafs.”