The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already have conceded that they won’t be selling all non-premium tickets to their Week One home game against the Browns, via local media reports. Sean Leahy of USA Today flags other franchises that could eventually be in the same boat during the 2010 season.
Leahy points to the Jaguars, Lions, Chiefs, Raiders, Rams, Cardinals, Bengals, and Chargers as teams that could struggle to sell out their venues — and thus to avoid a local blackout of their home games. On-field failures possibly could result in late-season blackouts in other cities, too, such as Buffalo, Carolina, Seattle, and Minnesota.
During the offseason, Neil Best of Newsday explained that teams may avoid a blackout by paying 34 cents on the dollar for each unsold non-premium seat. That money goes into the league-wide visiting-team pool, which is split by all 32 teams. The NFL doesn’t trumpet the availability of this device, since it could result in local pressure from fans and the media to pay the money needed to ensure that the games will be televised.
Then again, maybe some of the teams that can’t sell out their stadiums would be wise not to advertise the sub-par quality of the home team by putting it on local television for three-plus hours.
The Bucs used that device in 2009. They won’t do it in 2010.
For Week One, Tampa looks to be the only place where a sellout definitely won’t happen. With Tim Tebow’s Broncos visiting Jacksonville and Sam Bradford getting the start in St. Louis, the Jags and the Rams likely will get their tickets sold.