SBD/July 11, 2012/Franchises

Colts Will Require Sellouts To Avoid TV Blackouts Despite NFL's New Policy

Colts believe most teams will stick to old NFL policy of requiring sellouts
The Colts intend to “black out home games on local television if they are not sold out despite the NFL having relaxed its rule and allowing such telecasts if 85 percent of seats are sold,” according to a front-page piece by Alesia & Richards of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Colts COO Pete Ward said, “We’re a small-market team, and we need people in the stadium.” Ward said that there are 2,000 season tickets remaining and he is "confident those will be sold.” Alesia & Richards note if those season tickets “don’t sell, the Colts will try to sell them on an individual-game basis.” Ward also said that the Colts “were influenced by another part of the 85 percent rule: Teams choosing to show their games locally without a sellout would owe extra money to the visiting team for each ticket sold over 85 percent.” He added that the Colts believe most NFL teams “will stick to the old policy of needing sellouts for local telecasts” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/11). In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz wrote the Colts' decision “is terrible public relations.” Fans do not want to hear “any of this, especially a couple of months after letting a legendary player leave the premises.” But Kravitz wrote, "I will also say this: I get it. The bottom line is, well, the bottom line. Which is why I can’t imagine many teams, if any, actually accepting the 85% blackout rule. It’s too expensive” (INDYSTAR.com, 7/10).

WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE FANS?
In Nashville, David Climer writes under the header, “NFL's Compromise On Blackouts Doesn't Go Far Enough.” The 85% rule is a “step in the right direction where Joe Fan is concerned.” Climer: “But let’s take it further: The practice of blacking out games should be dropped entirely in NFL cities where taxpayer dollars were used to fund the stadium. … Since you footed that bill, why should the NFL determine whether you can watch the home team play on TV, regardless of how many tickets are sold?” Even "if you never set foot in LP Field for a football game, you have vested interested in the Titans” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 7/11). SB NATION’s Bomani Jones said, “I keep hearing about the NFL saying they’re going to improve the stadium experience to get guys out there. Why don’t you do something kind of kooky, like go a little easy on the prices for these tickets and concessions” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 7/9). In Phoenix, Bob Young wrote a jersey trade-in policy, lower ticket prices, cheaper beer and free parking are among the moves that “might help” to get fans into stadiums for NFL games (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/11).
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