The Denver Broncos had enough empty seats at Mile High on Monday night to accommodate every man, woman and child from Keenesburg, or Elizabeth, or Georgetown.
There were 1,432 unused tickets, but the game was considered a sellout, extending the Broncos' NFL best-single city sellout streak, dating back to 1970.
Sporting events don't typically sell every seat, even for what's considered a "sellout."
Including tonight, the Broncos have sold out 388 consecutive home games in Denver dating back to 1970. That's the longest streak in the NFL.— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) September 12, 2017
Tickets that are distributed, or given away, count as tickets "sold," under the NFL's rules. These tickets could be given to players, the media, other partner organizations, and the allotment given to the other team.
The team tells Next that, on average, 97 percent of tickets are sold, and 3 percent are distributed. The Chargers returned hundreds of tickets from their distributed allotment. Those tickets went up for sale, but even if they didn't sell, they counted toward the sellout because they'd been originally distributed.
If ticket scalpers end up sitting on tickets they can't re-sell, those still count as sold tickets for the purpose of a sellout.
The Broncos correctly point out that they voluntarily announce the number of unused tickets.