SBD/July 6, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Politicians Express Support Of NFL's Decision To Relax Blackout Rule

Bills would have to pay increased gate receipts into a leaguewide revenue pool
U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), as well as U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), have come out in support of the NFL owners’ recent decision to “let teams decide whether local TV broadcasters can air games if the stadium is at least 85 percent full,” according to Jennifer Martinez of THE HILL. Brown in a statement said the decision ensured “that all Bengals fans can root for the home team -- not just those who can afford tickets.” Blumenthal called the new policy “a step in the right direction.” Martinez noted it is now “up to individual clubs to decide what the seat threshold will be for local broadcasters to air the games.” Teams will have “to share more of their revenue with the NFL if they go over that set benchmark” (, 7/3). A BUFFALO NEWS editorial stated Bills management “should look favorably on a rules change that could make television blackouts more infrequent.” The new rule is “a gift from football heaven for fans in Buffalo, but the Bills are hesitant, and perhaps not without reason.” If the team adopts the new policy, it will be “required to pay increased gate receipts into a leaguewide revenue pool.” The hit “could be several hundred thousand dollars per year.” Still, the “entire organization owes it to its supporters to do everything it reasonably can to implement this new program” (BUFFALO NEWS, 7/5). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote fans will now start to “expect teams to do whatever it takes to get the blackouts lifted.” Florio: “The details won’t matter. So what if the home team has to pick its percentage before the season begins? Who cares if the home team loses 16 cents on the dollar for every ticket sold above the selected minimum?” Fans should “look for more and more media in towns with teams that struggle to fill their stadiums to call upon the local football franchises to ensure that the new floor for ticket sales translates into televised contests” (, 7/5).

BETTER TO STAY AT HOME?’s Mike Freeman cited several team execs as saying that “one of the motives behind the league's series of initiatives to make watching games in stadiums better for fans is the growing fear that technology at home will make watching games in stadiums obsolete.” What the NFL is doing is "smart,” and the move “makes total sense.” However, it “won't stop the inevitable,” as technology is “getting so good that one day (very soon) stadiums will be vastly less populated and the fan experience will mostly be limited to watching the game in HD, on a couch, roast beef sandwich in hand, no line for the bathroom, no traffic, no huge fees for tickets or parking.” Freeman: “In other words, technology and comfort will actually trump the excitement of being at a game” (, 7/5).
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