SBD/July 13, 2012/Franchises

Colts Owner Jim Irsay Sends Letter To Season-Ticket Holders Defending Blackout Decision

Irsay said a full-capacity crowd contributes to the game day experience
Colts Owner Jim Irsay is "defending the team's decision to allow home games that don't attract sellout crowds to be blacked out," according to WRTV-ABC. In a letter to season-ticket holders, Irsay said that he "doesn't believe artificially lowering the capacity of Lucas Oil Stadium in order to broadcast games on TV would be a wise move." Irsay: "Our players and coaches need a full stadium. A capacity crowd is a significant competitive factor (home field advantage), as well as a big contributor to a strong game day experience for our fans. Artificially lowering our capacity does not promote a full stadium." Irsay also cited the organization's "obligation to its ticket holders and the need for the team to sell its product for adhering to the blackout" (THEINDYCHANNEL.com, 7/12).

WORTH THE RISK? In Indianapolis, Phil Richards noted the Colts' decision to stick with the old blackout policy "had at least one welcome consequence Wednesday in the team's ticket office: It got phones ringing." Colts VP/Ticket Operations & Guest Services Larry Hall said, "There were three times the number of calls this morning as opposed to the last couple days." Richards noted Colts home games "are 97 percent sold out," and the team has "fewer than 2,000 available season tickets with more than a month before its Aug. 12 preseason opener." Hall and Colts COO Pete Ward said that they "fully expect the team to sell out and blackouts to become a nonissue" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/12). However, ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky wrote the Colts "are making a big mistake by risking blackouts at Lucas Oil Stadium this season." Games on local TV "are the single best marketing tool a team has" (ESPN.com, 7/11).
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