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McCain wants to scuttle blackout rule

John McCain AP

NFL owners who are registered Republicans may soon be reconsidering their party affiliation.

One week after Will Weatherford, a Florida Republican who controls the flow of traffic in the House of Representatives, killed a bill that would have allowed voters to approve (or reject) public money for stadium upgrades, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has introduced legislation that among other things would end blackouts of NFL games played in stadiums funded with taxpayers dollars.

“When the venue in which these sporting events take place has been the beneficiary of taxpayer funding, it is unconscionable to deny those taxpayers who paid for it the ability to watch the games on television when they would otherwise be available,” McCain said, via the Los Angeles Times.

He makes a valid point, as it relates to stadiums that aren’t privately owned and privately financed.  The NFL obviously will enlist its lobbyists to beat back the proposal, since the NFL naturally wants to maintain revenue streams coming from people who watch the games from home and who watch the games in person.

Still, the league gradually has been relaxing the blackout rule.  For starters, only non-premium seats fit into the equation; a team can sell none of its premium seats or suites and the games will still be televised locally.  Also, the NFL decided in 2012 to allow teams to reduce the minimum threshold from 100 percent of the non-premium seats to 85 percent.  As to any of the seats that remain unsold, teams and/or sponsors can buy the unsold tickets at 34 cents on the dollar and lift the blackout.

So while the NFL ostensibly blacks out games as a tool for ensuring that the televised images reflect the excitement of a full stadium, it’s ultimately about money.  And as the NFL makes more money from its TV contracts, maybe less money should be expected from ticket sales — especially in cities where the franchises have been unable to lure customers through the turnstiles with the likelihood of witnessing a victory by the home team.

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65 Responses to “McCain wants to scuttle blackout rule”
  1. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: May 10, 2013 11:30 AM

    NFL owners who are registered Republicans may soon be reconsidering their party affiliation.
    _______

    No real Republican considers McCain to be a Republican. Nevertheless, this sounds like a good idea.

  2. revhein says: May 10, 2013 11:31 AM

    Don’t call McCain a Republican, he’s a disgrace.

  3. fitzmagic1212 says: May 10, 2013 11:32 AM

    end blackouts!! we pay for the stadiums then they give us bad products and dont even let us watch? good thing we all can stream illegally!!!

  4. shaggytoodle says: May 10, 2013 11:32 AM

    Makes sense to me.

  5. rg3bionicknee says: May 10, 2013 11:33 AM

    As a Redskins fan, I’ve never had to worry about the blackout rule. But I feel for people who have to work on Sundays and can’t spend all day going to a football game. It’s not just about money, it’s about the time it takes, and workin folk who pay taxes to fund the stadiums in these cities but can’t make it to the games should at least be able to watch them.

  6. mazblast says: May 10, 2013 11:33 AM

    There’s a certain irony in the fact that the original anti-blackout push was by someone who couldn’t get tickets to Dolphin games at the always-sold-out Orange Bowl–and now, some of the biggest expanses of empty seats are for Dolphins home games.

    Personally, I love driving by Paul Brown Stadium and seeing thousands of fans at the “sold out” stadium disguised as empty seats. Of course, when the Mighty Bengals are playing the Browns, Steelers, Bears, or Colts, those seats are actually filled.

  7. jayhawk6 says: May 10, 2013 11:35 AM

    In some cases, a team could probably fill its stadium by simply offering free parking.

  8. joetoronto says: May 10, 2013 11:36 AM

    “When the venue in which these sporting events take place has been the beneficiary of taxpayer funding, it is unconscionable to deny those taxpayers who paid for it the ability to watch the games on television when they would otherwise be available,” McCain said, via the Los Angeles Times.

    I don’t know how anybody can argue with this, it’s like paying for tolls on a road that was paid for by taxpayer money.

    It’s just wrong.

  9. mustbechris says: May 10, 2013 11:39 AM

    YES. Finally. It’s not often I agree with John McCain, but between this and his vote for background checks he’s all good this year.

    Greg Aiello will call this a “job-killing regulation” in 3…2…

  10. olcap says: May 10, 2013 11:41 AM

    I think this is the first thing I’ve ever agreed with John McCain on.

  11. illiniftw says: May 10, 2013 11:42 AM

    Make it so its less than $500 to take a family of 4 to ONE game and the stadiums will always be sold out. There isn’t a lack of interest to see games live. Fans just have a hard time affording attending games, buying food/drinks, and buying merch not to mention dealing with drunks.

    How many owners were born rich or married into it and don’t see that? Maybe Khan will talk some sense into them since he made all his money.

  12. picksix401 says: May 10, 2013 11:42 AM

    This legislation has been a long time coming… I have no qualms with seeing more games on Sunday. McCain should gain some popularity amongst NFL fans today, given that we actually prefer to WATCH the games

  13. unbiasfan says: May 10, 2013 11:44 AM

    We need more Republicans associated with the NFL, it’s all liberals like Roger Goddell who cares more about “Safety Hazards” and supporting players to “come out”

  14. godofwine330 says: May 10, 2013 11:46 AM

    This same guy that said government employees “don’t deserve a raise” right after he and his cronies voted themselves a 14% raise.

    He can go kiss a turkey because I am not listening to anything he has to say.

  15. rayguyreturns says: May 10, 2013 11:47 AM

    Perhaps the teams could LOWER TICKET PRICES. Now that’s a concept.

    Relying on government to solve this can only turn out badly.

  16. buckybadger says: May 10, 2013 11:47 AM

    Starters this isn’t an area for congress concern, sorry it isn’t.

    I know this isn’t the popular stance but the tax payers helped pay for the stadium, not the TV Networks. The reason the tax payers agree to help pay for the stadium [and yes its always up for vote] is for the revenue it can bring locally, not so you can watch a football game on TV. The TV revenue goes straight into the owners and players money and has little no benefit locally. What benefits the local economy are people going to the game and other events happening at the stadium. These people are hitting the local restaurants, buying from vendors and tipping service workers.

    So actually McCain is exactly wrong here. I know it sounds good up front but if you look at it a bit more objectively you will see that the local economy, which is what the tax payers who vote on this should be most concerned, benefits more from this rule than if everyone was at home sitting in front of their TV. People getting out of their house is much better for the locals.

  17. nflfan1326 says: May 10, 2013 11:49 AM

    Guess that means Miami can have blackouts.

  18. sschmiggles says: May 10, 2013 11:50 AM

    Don’t call McCain a Republican, he’s a disgrace.
    ___________________________

    I’m no McCain fan, but he’s done more for this country than you ever will. It’s one thing to not like him, it’s another thing to call him a “disgrace.”

  19. modhairken says: May 10, 2013 11:50 AM

    Keep the blackout rule, but give fans a pay-per-view option.

  20. tailgateheaven says: May 10, 2013 11:54 AM

    Memo to Owners: You want full stadiums?

    Support and recognize the 75k-90k tailgaters OUTSIDE your stadium, who spend a $1/4 billion on the local economy each season for groceries and grills et al., and still buy your $9 watered-down beers and $5 bottles of water IN the the stadium every week……each and every week…..some w/o “witnessing victory” or even seeing the playoffs in 14 years. See BUFFALO

  21. arrowhead816 says: May 10, 2013 11:58 AM

    Wow, I actually agree with McCain

  22. twilson962 says: May 10, 2013 11:58 AM

    I think this is great. Teams are always strong-arming cities, with the threat of leaving, to get public funding for their stadiums. If the tax-payers are footing the bill they should absolutely be able to watch the games. PERIOD.

    This should also go for games on NFL Network & ESPN. If you live in the local area & don’t have cable (there are a few of these oddballs out there) or a cable/dish provider that doesn’t have NFLN the games should be shown on local broadcast networks.

  23. nastyn8770 says: May 10, 2013 11:58 AM

    Thank god! This is the smartest thing I’ve heard from an ejected official in ages.

  24. twilson962 says: May 10, 2013 11:59 AM

    BTW – I’m from the DC area, and have cable…to go with my season tickets. This isn’t actually an issue for me. But it certainly makes sense.

  25. wewantmoretebowandfavrearticles says: May 10, 2013 12:08 PM

    Blackout rule is about pricing, not filling stadiums. The reason people don’t go in many markets is that their team is not a competitive product and the ticket price still won’t drop. With action by the government, the NFL will no longer be able to use blackouts as a tool to inflate ticket prices in bad markets.

  26. pacificajim says: May 10, 2013 12:14 PM

    Could someone please blackout John McCain. Pretty please.

  27. rcp29 says: May 10, 2013 12:21 PM

    Here’s a bright idea – how about no more public financing of stadiums!

  28. jbraider says: May 10, 2013 12:23 PM

    When a LOCAL (i.e. city / county) government provides funding to build a stadium, it signs a contract with the team and the NFL to lease that stadium for a number of years. Part of the terms of that contract are the relevant NFL rules and covenants, including those relating to blackouts.

    The team gets the benefit of a free or reduced price place to play its games. The city (and its residents) gets the benefit of the increaed economic activity and tax base resulting from the games, the presence of the organization, etc. If you live in a city with an NFL team and you odn’t like the way your local government is representing your interests, vote them out of office.

    The FEDERAL government (who has no tax money tied up in the stadium) should have no interest and no say. They were not a party to the contract. I would even argue that they are not empowered by the Constitution to act, as this is purely a local aspect of a national business.

    This country is increasingly populated by ignorant, intellectually lazy people who succomb to the siren song of an all-powerful federal government “fixing” all its problems.

    My message to McCain would be this: We have a $16 Trillion national debt, $123 T in unfunfed medicare, medicaid, obamacare and soical security liabilities and we just went through our 4th straight year with a $1+ Trillion budget deficit. Maybe you got bigger things to worry about than whether some slob in Phoenix can watch the Cardinals get squashed again this year

  29. arzcardinals says: May 10, 2013 12:31 PM

    He’s dead on re public taxes. The owners can’t in one hand take the money to buy the stadium then with the other hand push them away from seeing what THEY paid for.
    Here buy my car…no you can’t have a ride in it.
    Think about it

  30. Norseman says: May 10, 2013 12:36 PM

    This makes a lot of sense. Having just resolved the Vikings stadium deal last year, where state and local government put up about 45% of the funds for the new stadium, the blackout issue came up as part of the final deal.

    One of the conditions of the deal between the state and the Vikings was that no Vikings games would be blacked-out- a small concession to the out-state and low-income taxpayers who would be very unlikely to see the inside of the stadium on game day.

    The condition was removed because it was “an NFL rule” that individual teams do not have the authority to change- which is true. This legislation would force the NFL to amend their no black-out rule in the case of public funding for NFL stadiums.

    Of course the better solution would be for the NFL to simply amend the rule without federal legislation. The revenue loss implications are minimal when you factor the lost local ad revenue when games are not televised. For the most part, market dynamics should prevent many blackouts from happening. If you can’t sell tickets, lower the price.

  31. marima07 says: May 10, 2013 12:41 PM

    Shoot. At first I thought he was just another senator meddling in the NFL, but McCain isn’t just an attention-seeker.

    He’s absolutely right. Taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to fund stadiums.

  32. mackie66 says: May 10, 2013 12:41 PM

    McCain, to me, is rapidly gaining speed on senility.

  33. garyhd01 says: May 10, 2013 12:41 PM

    to: buckeybadger

    a well thought out comment, however the taxpayers have already paid for the right to sit home and watch while the fans that do go have a nicer stadium to sit in the nicer stadium draws better crowds as does the excitement generated by watching the game at home with friends eating chips and drinking beers all bought from local merchants, And while being in a packer or redskin market means never having to miss the games on tv certain areas of the country (due to weather or other plusses) offer more diverse things to do in the dead of winter this is when and where we need to help the fan if the weather is warm and he cant watch the game he loses interest and goes out and gets a tan this cant be good for the nfl either

  34. whitdog23 says: May 10, 2013 12:47 PM

    finally…something from Congress that’s meaningful. PASS it into law

  35. jimmyt says: May 10, 2013 12:55 PM

    I don’t mind the black out rule at all. I just can’t believe how cheap the people that stand to make the most off of the televised product are to not but up the remaining tickets and give them to charity. Seems like it would make for a nice tax write off.

  36. brooks07 says: May 10, 2013 12:55 PM

    As a Bucs fan, I officially love McCain!

  37. buckybadger says: May 10, 2013 12:58 PM

    arzcardinals says:
    May 10, 2013 12:31 PM
    He’s dead on re public taxes. The owners can’t in one hand take the money to buy the stadium then with the other hand push them away from seeing what THEY paid for.
    Here buy my car…no you can’t have a ride in it.
    Think about it
    —————————————

    It is nothing like this. Horrible analogy. When you pay for a stadium you don’t pay to watch games on TV. You are paying for the local revenue it brings to your city. It is an investment. Would you really vote yes on a stadium to sit on your couch?

  38. mustbechris says: May 10, 2013 1:21 PM

    @unbiasfan

    Roger Goodell is a registered Republican. His wife worked for Fox News. His father was a Republican Senator.

  39. ermi0101 says: May 10, 2013 1:26 PM

    how bout letting the fans get access to the unsold tickets for 34 cents on the dollar. Why are only teams and sponsors able to get the discount to decide if we get to watch it or not?!?! Makes about as much sense as allowing politicians to vote on if they get a pay cut or not!!

    Im guessing if the Thursday before the game all left over tickets were made available with this discount, a stadium would never go unsold, and a lot of people who cannot afford the high price of NFL games would finally get the chance to see one.

  40. buckybadger says: May 10, 2013 1:26 PM

    garyhd01, I am not exactly sure the point you trying to make but I think it is along the lines that having people do other things other than watch football isn’t good for the NFL either. You are right but that isn’t really the point of this discussion. Again if you voted for the stadium just so you can watch them on TV than you totally missed the point of having a publicly funded stadium. You vote for it to generate local revenue.

  41. eatitfanboy says: May 10, 2013 1:27 PM

    While I agree that blackouts are wrong and should be ended, the ironic thing is that the reason the league has always given for having them is more valid now than it was when the rule was created.

    The justification was that having the game on TV would demotivate people from going to the stadium. But with the primitive technology of the time, were people that were otherwise able to get to the stadium and afford to go actually staying home to watch the game on crappy 70s TVs?

    Now, with HiDef, 60″+ TVs, the Red Zone and Sunday Ticket, it’s a fact that people who could afford to go are staying home because the at home experience has arguably surpassed the in-stadium experience.

    The answer it to improve the stadium experience, not black out games.

  42. snowcker says: May 10, 2013 1:28 PM

    I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here.

    1) Stadiums aren’t built with excess taxpayer dollars lying around in a savings account somewhere. The city takes out bonds that are paid off in the future by increased sales tax, hotel tax, rental car tax, admissions tax, etc. For instance, the public funding contributions for the Cowboys stadium includes: 0.5% city sales tax increase, 2.0% city hotel tax, 5.0% city car rental tax, 10% admissions tax, $3 parking tax, $25 million county contribution.

    Most of these taxes won’t affect the home viewer. Hotel taxes and rental car taxes are targeting people visiting the city. The admissions tax and parking tax are targeting people who go to the game. Only the money contributed by the county and the increased sales tax may affect the taxpayer. What if the viewer is outside the county but still in the TV market, then he is likely to pay nothing. He’s also farther from the stadium and probably less likely to go to the game.

    2. If the city owns the publicly financed stadium, then the team is paying for its use. If you want to gripe that your politicians made a bad deal and built something that costs more than the team is willing to rent it out for then vote them out.

  43. icdogg says: May 10, 2013 1:29 PM

    It’s not the public that McCain is most representing here, it’s the TV stations who currently are being shaken down by the NFL to buy up the extra tickets in order to show home games.

  44. breadslicer says: May 10, 2013 1:44 PM

    Never let common sense get in the way of party loyalty… :/

  45. lks311 says: May 10, 2013 1:48 PM

    Call me old-fashion, but, I thought our elected leaders should be working on getting people back to work, reducing gun violence and peace in the middle east…you know…stuff like that.

  46. starrtodowler says: May 10, 2013 2:20 PM

    With all that’s coming to a head in our country, shouldn’t a Senator (who I voted for, BTW) be focusing on more important issues??!!

  47. hatesycophants says: May 10, 2013 2:44 PM

    You admit to voting for this privileged git? I guess we know which direction your moral compass points. You a big Tiki fan as well?

  48. dalcow4 says: May 10, 2013 3:10 PM

    McCain most definitely is a Republican. In fact, he is one who most perfectly represents what the Republican party actually is— all talk while selling the country down the river.

  49. onebucplace says: May 10, 2013 3:13 PM

    McCain says if you’re against amnesty you’re a racist, he’s for higher taxes and wants America to sign the global warming scam treaty Kyoto — he might be a Republican by todays’ socialist standards, but not by any other standard.

  50. revskip says: May 10, 2013 3:23 PM

    McCain is spot on with this. If billionaire owners want to get public funding for their profit centers they should have to show the games in the local market.

    They wouldn’t have that issue if they ponied up the cash themselves. Money which they quickly make back through games sales and event sales.

    Maybe this legislature would help owners realize the folly of asking for taxpayer money for their own personal money machines.

  51. dalcow4 says: May 10, 2013 3:26 PM

    Wrong, buc. He’s a Republican by REPUBLICAN STANDARDS.

  52. bigtrav425 says: May 10, 2013 3:44 PM

    If he had such great ideas like this before.he might of been President!….this needs to happen.among many silly rules the No Fun League has this maybe the most asinine of them

  53. mrjames21 says: May 10, 2013 3:52 PM

    jbraider says:
    May 10, 2013 12:23 PM
    When a LOCAL (i.e. city / county) government provides funding to build a stadium, it signs a contract with the team and the NFL to lease that stadium for a number of years. Part of the terms of that contract are the relevant NFL rules and covenants, including those relating to blackouts.

    The team gets the benefit of a free or reduced price place to play its games. The city (and its residents) gets the benefit of the increaed economic activity and tax base resulting from the games, the presence of the organization, etc. If you live in a city with an NFL team and you odn’t like the way your local government is representing your interests, vote them out of office.

    The FEDERAL government (who has no tax money tied up in the stadium) should have no interest and no say. They were not a party to the contract. I would even argue that they are not empowered by the Constitution to act, as this is purely a local aspect of a national business.

    This country is increasingly populated by ignorant, intellectually lazy people who succomb to the siren song of an all-powerful federal government “fixing” all its problems.

    My message to McCain would be this: We have a $16 Trillion national debt, $123 T in unfunfed medicare, medicaid, obamacare and soical security liabilities and we just went through our 4th straight year with a $1+ Trillion budget deficit. Maybe you got bigger things to worry about than whether some slob in Phoenix can watch the Cardinals get squashed again this year

    Your point is true except……
    The NFL, like the NBA, MLB have ANTI-TRUST exceptions granted by the Federal Govt and are thus subject to Congress’ interventions.

  54. barbeaux says: May 10, 2013 3:59 PM

    Cowboys Stadium…there’s no direct public transportation. You can take a train to a train to a bus, but it takes a good 3 hours. Otherwise, you pay $60 for parking…not for the season but for 1 game. Beer is what $9? Food is what $15 for a burger and fries. The price of a good enough ticket where you can actually see the game decently is a couple of hundred bucks plus. The costs are too high.

  55. charger383 says: May 10, 2013 4:03 PM

    McCain came up with this one good thing, now he can retitre

  56. onebucplace says: May 10, 2013 4:10 PM

    mrjames21 says: My message to McCain would be this: We have a $16 Trillion national debt, $123 T in unfunfed medicare, medicaid, obamacare and soical security liabilities and we just went through our 4th straight year with a $1+ Trillion budget deficit. Maybe you got bigger things to worry about

    ———-

    Uh I don’t like the guy at all — at all — but he was kind of running for office to keep many of those things from happening — its not like he’s done nothing. When you have a president that cares so little for the future of the country that he uses a trillion dollar ‘stimulus’ as a re-election campaign I find it hard to fault McCain for issues like the deficit.

    As for the liberals out there you should do a little history reading about economics and find out how and why the great depression wasn’t just a normal depression or even recession. This is stuff you won’t learn in the teacher union controlled schools but its still really important and interesting. The answers you won’t like *hint hint – the government can’t spend its way out of a recession / depression without making the whole thing worse and last much longer **further hint, you might want to look at the years 2008-2013 as another example of what NOT to do

  57. dhillca says: May 10, 2013 4:11 PM

    He’s right now butt the F&$) out of NFL business.

  58. harvestern says: May 10, 2013 4:53 PM

    The best part of this proposed legislation is forcing Satellite and cable companies to get rid of bundled packages and let customers choose what stations they want to pay for and watch. The blackout part is the secondary issue of the legislation.

  59. luckyarmpit says: May 10, 2013 4:54 PM

    revhein says:
    May 10, 2013 11:31 AM
    Don’t call McCain a Republican, he’s a disgrace.

    Remember that “disgrace” sat in the Hanoi Hilton to give you the freedom to call him that. I really wish people would show our Veterans a little more respect. Even if you don’t agree with his views, which is fine, please remember that.

  60. barbeaux says: May 10, 2013 4:57 PM

    @onebucplace, please enlighten us with your immaculate knowledge of macroeconomics. The recession started because of the mortgage bubble. Greedy mortgage companies and greedy banks hedged their bets too far, lost a lot of money and stopped lending because they couldn’t take on more risk. When banks stop lending then businesses lose funding, construction slows etc then boom recession. A lot of money was spent from 2008-2013 to keep the banks from collapsing and bringing down everything else. So, in this case, the government spending kept it from being worse than it was. Stop spewing tea party/fox news rhetoric. Obama did not cause the recession.

  61. hatesycophants says: May 10, 2013 4:57 PM

    onebucplace exhibits a thorough lack of knowledge of politics, civics and economics. No poster has ever said so much without the benefit of actual facts to support the positions he’s been told he she hold.

    Congratulations!

  62. onebucplace says: May 10, 2013 6:29 PM

    Sorry guys but what I have to say won’t fit on a bumper sticker so I know you wouldn’t be interested.

  63. sourdoughsam says: May 10, 2013 6:33 PM

    Not the role of the Federal government. I appreciate McCain’s service in the military, but I really wish he would have read the Constitution before he took an oath to uphold it as a Congressman.

  64. TheWizard says: May 10, 2013 7:07 PM

    The recession started because of the mortgage bubble. Greedy mortgage companies and greedy banks hedged their bets too far

    Not exactly.

    Fanny and Freddie at the urging of the Clinton administration made thousands of loans to people not able to pay them back. All that bad paper was sold off multiple times until it couldn’t be sold any further, because it’s toxic and everybody knew it.

    McCain is right, televise the games. Blackouts punish hundreds of thousands of people over the hope of filling ten thousand seats.

  65. therealtrenches says: May 10, 2013 7:55 PM

    Doesn’t McCain have more important things to attend to?

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