One of the biggest games of the entire NFL regular season takes place on Sunday in Cincinnati, where the Bengals have a win-and-in-the-playoffs situation against the Ravens, who have plenty to play for themselves.
And yet the game may be blacked out on local television.
The Bengals have only sold out one home game this season, and that one — home against the Steelers — benefitted from thousands of Pittsburgh fans making the trip to cheer on the visiting team. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Bengals are offering two-for-one tickets to season-ticket holders who want to buy more tickets and bring their friends to the Ravens game in an effort to fill the stadium for the huge home game against the Ravens. That, however, may not be enough.
Even with discounted tickets, filling out Paul Brown Stadium will be a tall order. Saturday’s win over the Cardinals had an announced attendance of 41,273, and even that is an inflated figure — the announced attendance represents the number of tickets distributed, so with no-shows included the number of people in the stands was lower than that. Paul Brown Stadium seats more than 65,000 people, but announced attendance has been below 42,000 three times this year.
The bottom line for the Bengals is that last year’s miserable season turned off so many of the local fans that this year’s surprisingly successful campaign hasn’t been enough to bring the fans back. Maybe beating the Ravens and getting to the playoffs will be the start of a successful season-ticket sales campaign for 2012.