SBD/July 16, 2012/Franchises

Bucs To "Take Full Advantage" Of New Blackout Policy; Colts, Jags Opt Out

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Bucs need to sell fewer than 44,000 per game to reach 85% threshold
The Buccaneers on Friday announced the team "will take full advantage" of the blackout policy, according to Stephen Holder of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. The Bucs have agreed to allow games to be shown on local TV if at least 85% of general admission seats are sold 72 hours before a game. Based on the 51,000-plus general admission seats in Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs "will need to sell fewer than 44,000 per game" to reach the 85% threshold. The team averaged 56,614 in total attendance for its seven regular-season home games last season, about 87% of the stadium's 65,000-seat capacity. The Bucs "must adhere" to the 85% threshold all season, "meaning they can't change it depending on the opponent." If the team starts selling out games, it is "on the hook to split revenue with the visiting team on every ticket sold" above 85% (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/14).

THANK YOU, NO: In Florida, Tania Gangulihe Jaguars noted the Jaguars can be added "to the list of teams to decline the NFL's new relaxed blackout policies." Jaguars President Mark Lamping said, "We have not finalized our blackout number yet, but it will be the same as last year, or very close, to accommodate some seating initiatives we are considering unrelated to the blackout issue." The Jaguars "have not had a blackout since the 2009 season in which nine of 10 home games" were blacked out on local TV (JACKSONVILLE.com, 7/13).

SENSITIVE SUBJECT: The Colts also will opt out of the new blackout policy, and an INDIANAPOLIS STAR editorial stated, "By making a non-issue an issue this week, the Indianapolis Colts managed to offend fans, upset restaurant and sports bar owners, and pick away at old scabs about the overly generous deal that built and maintains the team's Lucas Oil Stadium home." It is "clear the Colts had good business reasons to operate under the old blackout rules." It is "clear, too, that the challenges of operating in a smaller market aren't fully appreciated by many fans or team critics." If the Colts had "issued a press release saying the team greatly appreciated fan support, noting that sellouts were fully expected and explaining the issues fully, far fewer people would have been upset" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/13).
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