Packers Avoid Blackout With Help From Sponsors; Colts Also Announce Sell Out
The Packers Friday announced several corporate sponsors, led by Green Bay-based Associated Bank, bought the remaining available tickets for Sunday's Wild Card game against the 49ers, avoiding a local blackout of the game. Other partners that chipped in to ensure a sellout were three Fox affiliates in the region -- WITI (Milwaukee), WLUK (Green Bay) and WFXS (Wausau) -- as well as Mills Fleet Farm and Bellin Health (Packers). In Milwaukee, Don Walker in a front-page piece noted a blackout would have been "astonishing for a storied franchise accustomed to packing Lambeau Field on game day." The last blackout for a Packers game was during the '83 Playoffs. The team this year did add 7,000 more seats, "bringing capacity to 80,750, third most in the league." However, the ticket situation is "all the more remarkable because of the reputation fans have for braving all kinds of weather." The "surprising turn of events can be traced, in part, to a new ticket policy and the team's poor play late in the season, which dampened interest among season-ticket holders reluctant to commit ahead of time to playoff tickets." The Packers' marketing staff this week "aggressively marketed the matchup," as e-mails "went out to season-ticket holders and through Ticketmaster." There was "some grumbling among Packers season-ticket holders about the new ticket policy, which was announced late in November." Season-ticket holders under the policy were "given the opportunity to buy their allotment of up to four playoff tickets." They had to "pay in advance for two playoff games, pay for the highest-priced seats and pay a handling fee." If the Packers had "not made the playoffs, the money would have been applied to next year's season tickets." In previous years, fans had the option of "getting the money refunded." A Packers officials said that "half of all season ticket holders did that" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/3).
COLTS ANNOUNCE SELL OUT: PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio notes the Colts Friday morning announced that corporate partner Meijer has “purchased the remaining 1,200 non-premium tickets to Saturday’s game against the Chiefs, making it a sellout." The tickets will be "donated to local military families.” The Colts had “obtained an extended extension through Friday afternoon to sell all remaining non-premium tickets” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/3). The Colts now have "sold out 104 straight games, including the playoffs” (INDYSTAR.com, 1/3). In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz writes the possibility of a blackout was "not an embarrassment for the city of Indianapolis" but "an embarrassment for the NFL, which continues to handle postseason tickets in a way that makes it too difficult to sell out stadiums for the country's most beloved and popular sport." The NFL "overprices playoff tickets ... and leaves fans with too little time to get themselves together in order to make a purchase." That situation will continue "with the proliferation of HD TVs ... until some measures are taken" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/3).
Some analysts believe the NFL places less
emphasis on the in-stadium experience
IS THE NFL HEARING THE FANS? SPORTS ON EARTH's Colin McGowan wrote fans are "communicating to the league that attending these games is either too expensive or not particularly more appealing than watching from their couch or at a bar." The NFL, if it "really believed the hogwash it was peddling about communities, would listen to fan bases that are telling it that its product isn’t worth the asking price." It "won’t do this, of course, because it doesn’t actually care" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 1/2). In S.F., Ron Kroichick wrote, "If you're surprised by the Packers, Colts and Bengals struggling to sell out wild-card games, then you haven't been paying attention." Long ago, the message "from the sports establishment to Joe and Jane Fan became abundantly clear: We sincerely, deeply care about television viewers," but "ticket-buying spectators, not so much" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/3). In Philadelphia, Al Morganti writes, "Just think about the arrogance of the National Football League. Think about the arrogance of a league that would dare to even consider the blackout of a playoff game in any market." Whatever the reason for lower ticket sales, the NFL "has again put a gun to the head of the public." The NFL "blacking out a playoff game -- or even threatening to do so in a place like Green Bay -- is a total and compete disgrace." It is "not a disgrace to the fans, but a disgrace to a league that uses its fan base as a commodity that was bought, paid for, and expected to act appropriately" (PHILLY.com, 1/3).