The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had trouble filling up their stadium lately. But all of their games have appeared on local television. This reality has prompted widespread speculation that the team has been purchasing the excess tickets, to ensure that the three-hour informercial will air not only when the team plays on the road, but also when the team plays in Tampa.
Though the official NFL Game Books show sellout-level crowds for the seven games hosted at Raymond James Stadium in 2009 (63,806 against the Cowboys, 63,689 against the Giants, 62,422 against the Panthers, 62,994 against the Packers, 62,720 against the Saints, 62,731 against the Jets, and 62,578 against the Falcons), the folks at JoeBucsFan.com said that empty seats were common last season, citing figures from the Tampa Sports Authority. Per the St. Petersburg Times, the actual attendance for the game against Carolina was only 42,487.
If the team has been eating the extra tickets, that could be changing. Co-chairman Joel Glazer recently said that there is a “real possibility” that the team will face blackouts during the 2010 season, according to Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune.
“I’d say this is the first year in many years that we expect we could
very well have blackouts, based on where we’re at,” Glazer said. “We hope that’s not the case, but where we sit today, we don’t want
people to be necessarily surprised because we haven’t had this in 15
years, but we’re staring at the possibility for the first time in a
decade and a half of having games blacked out in our local market. It’s
not what we want and we are working very hard to try and see that it
doesn’t happen, but it is a real possibility.”
Last year, the Buccaneers played only seven regular-season games at home, since one of their “home” games took place in London. It’s possible that the Glazers justified paying for the excess tickets for the seven Tampa games by using any extra money earned from the 80,000-plus who attended the game at Wembley Stadium.
Regardless of how the Glazers managed to avoided blackouts in 2009, that same approach apparently won’t be used in 2010, making Jacksonville no longer the only city in Florida that is scrambling to sell tickets.