The Buccaneers have sold out Raymond James Stadium just twice in the last two seasons, and a 4-12 record in 2011 wouldn’t seem like the kind of thing that would get the fans who were there last year to keep coming back in 2012. But the Buccaneers say the arrival of new coach Greg Schiano has reinvigorated the season ticket base, and they’re pleased with the rate of renewal from last year’s season-ticket buyers.
“What’s encouraging is we are maintaining the base through our renewal process,” Bucs VP of Business Administration Brian Ford told the Tampa Tribune. “We’re trying to grow, but first you’ve got to maintain what you have.”
The Buccaneers will need to grow their ticket sales if they want to fill their stadium, but they won’t necessarily have to sell any more tickets to lift the local TV blackouts that have resulted in 13 home games being kept off local television in the last two seasons. (All eight home games were blacked out in 2010, while five home games were blacked out in 2011, with two televised sellouts and one “home” game in London on Tampa television.) The NFL is loosening the blackout rule this season to allow teams to put their games on local TV if 85 percent of the tickets are sold, so if the Buccaneers want to they can take advantage of that new policy and allow the local fans to watch home games on TV even if they’re not sold out.
Lowering some ticket prices may have convinced some fans to come back, but what really gives the team a chance to energize the fans is that this year the Bucs hired Schiano and spent big money in free agency on cornerback Eric Wright, guard Carl Nicks and wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
“I think our fan base is optimistic about the changes, on and off the field,” Ford said. “What’s not to get excited about?”
What’s not to get excited about is the fact that the Bucs haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007. A return to the postseason is what the Bucs really need to bring the fans back.