The Tampa Bay Bucs are blacking out fans for the 23rd time in 26 home games. The Bucs ownership and the NFL continue to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that blackouts actually work and aren’t, in fact, killing an entire fan base. As one fan put it in a local report: “If it’s not on TV, you don’t get the publicity and the interest to get people back out to the stadium to actually want to buy tickets.” Remember that the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, could avoid a blackout for $100,000 which, given their net worth, amounts to about $3.70 to you and me. The team also benefits from a stadium deal that ends up netting the family over $1.5 million per year just on operating income.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals are blacking out fans for the first time this season, after choosing not to take advantage of the NFL’s new relaxed blackout policy. “What we want are sold-out houses. We want to see the stadium full,” Bengals president Mike Brown said at the time. ”If you think back when they passed the sales to finance the stadiums (in 1996), they did it so people could come down to the stadiums and watch games. They didn’t do it so people could stay at home and watch games on television. They could have done that without a new stadium. When I look around the league, most are staying with the old rule.”
Actually, they did it because Brown was threatening to take the team and leave unless the public agreed to build a new stadium for the Bengals.
Consider this, from the June 25, 1995 edition of the Washington Post:
Bengals President Mike Brown said he’s giving Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials until Thursday to finalize an agreement for a new stadium. If an agreement can’t be signed by then, Brown said he’ll terminate discussions with local officials and begin negotiating with a group trying to lure an NFL team to Baltimore.
And keep in mind the Cincinnati public has already paid through the teeth after agreeing to one of the worst stadium deals in history.
Finally, since Brown and the Bengals seem to believe that blackouts will drive people to the stadium: “BLACKOUTS HAVE NO SIGNIFICANT EFFECT ON TICKET SALES IN THE NFL.”