League will consider allowing more teams to cover unsold seats


NFL owners unexpectedly learned last week that the league’s season-ticket sales have moved at a brisker pace in 2011 than 2010, despite the lockout.  Even more unexpectedly, the owners also discussed last week the possibility of allowing teams to cover up seats in order to ensure that TV blackouts are lifted.

According to Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the measure could result in a vote as soon as June 21, the next date on which owners will meet.  Five years ago, the NFL allowed the Jaguars to permanently cover 9,000 seats at Everbank Field, which has a capacity of 76,000.

“We talked about reducing manifests for blackout purposes,” Giants co-owner John Mara told Kaplan.

One question that needs to be resolved is whether the league would allow the seats to be uncovered for games entailing a high ticket demand.  The Jaguars cannot sell the set-aside seats for a big game.

Either way, the strategy allows the league to relax the blackout rule without officially relaxing the blackout rule.  The mere fact that the league is considering the possibility of allowing teams to reduce its “manifests” (hell, they even came up with a different term so that they wouldn’t have to use the words “unsold seats”) means that the league realizes that significant enhancements in the home-viewing experience will have a long-term impact on ticket sales.

That said, the home viewing experience also is enhanced by a background that includes stands filled to capacity.  Thus, don’t be surprised if the “manifests” are reduced with green-screen material onto which images of, you know, paying customers could then be superimposed.

Unless, of course, someone wants to pay huge money to slap their corporate logos onto the tarps.

38 responses to “League will consider allowing more teams to cover unsold seats

  1. The Redskins are about to remove seats from the FedEx Field endzone (s) … I guess they finally realized there wasn’t as many people on the waiting list as previously thought… huh?

  2. someone wants to pay huge money to slap their corporate logos onto the tarps.

    seems reasonable to me. Why not, for a fee, place a corporate logo on EVERY seat and reduce the price of that seat accordingly to the seat holder? Seems like a win win situation. Stadiums get their seat value, customers get a bit of a price break.

  3. Performance, market size, and unemployment ratings should all be taken in to consideration when applying blackouts..

  4. No worries…Brees, Manning and Brady will still get their huge share. The minimum wage players that are being abused in this process by their own union…not so much

  5. @ redrew
    Yeah, if the owners do this, the players will aue because the owners are failing to maximize the revenue by not forcing people to buy seats.

  6. Less revenue….then all you free agents expecting a big check….not happening this year. No worries though, Tommy and his agent are OK….

  7. Way to go Commish. what’s a catch, what’s a legal tackle? the player hate you. you take it in the shorts for the owners:0

    you can’t sell seats for the most popular sport in America by far (only 8 home games)

    Goodell is a FAILURE !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. The league will guarantee that if you live in a state or area where the team basically sucks, you get to watch them every darn week rather than have it blacked out and getting a good game on,

  9. @skinsrock

    The Redskins have the longest sellout streak in football as well as one of the largest stadiums in football. There’s lots of thing to laugh at the Redskins for but this isn’t one of them.

  10. The fact that the NFL requires tarps to cover the seats is stupid. I think that the jags should be allowed to sell open seats if they are available.

    If the NFL wants to make sure that people fill the stadium seats, they should try to offer a better product. I assure you, 70,000+ people didn’t pay $100 per seat so that they could watch a high school marching band at half-time. Nor did they pay it so that they could have the opportunity to buy an $11 beer.

    The fact is that most of the money comes from the TV deals….and the HD broadcasting makes the home a better venue to enjoy the games. If the NFL wants to keep the stands full for the TV experience, they need to control the prices or offer a product that warrants the cost.

    As a Bills season ticket holder, I know about paying for a product that sucks. The value of my season tickets rests solely on my ability to get hammered with my friends at 8am on a sunday morning.

  11. @willycents

    Not a bad idea, but one thing I think we have all learned about the NFL…whatever they shave off the top will not be passed down to the fans.

  12. I don’t get why they don’t just come up with a hard number equal to the smallest venue and use that as the minimum number of seats to sell to avoid a blackout. If Jacksonville has a capacity 76,000 and Indianapolis has 57,000, why should a team like Jacksonville that is struggling have to sell 33% (!!!) more seats than a team like the Colts that has no problem filling it’s seats?

  13. @willycents –

    The league can’t force anybody to buy seats. They can blackout every home game of every team in the league and people will still be watching those games, so it’s no biggie.

    Something tells me this has more to do with DirecTv than the locals in each market. DirecTv Sunday ticket is just a transmission of the local affiliate showing each game and they are subject to the blackout restrictions due to that.

    I’m sure they are now applying leverage based on the loss of Sunday Ticket subscribers that they are already seeing.

  14. Of course they will sue, I have no doubt.

    Why not, they are suing over anything else.

    They gotta keep paying those lawyers.

  15. I don’t know why but “Waste Management” would seem an appropriate choice for corporate tarp advertising!

  16. As a Jaguars fan, I don’t apologize for having to cover seats for such a large stadium..(The tarps actually do look better than empty seats.) Our stadium capacity is still around 66,000 with the tarps. That is the size of many stadiums…Are you saying that theirs can be reduced well below that? The Blackout Rule needs to go….

  17. Here’s a novel concept:

    90 minutes before gametime any fan with a ticket can line up at will-call and get upgraded to the best unsold seat in the house for free. First come first serve.

    Give your fans who can’t afford front row a day they won’t forget, grow some positive customer experiences and the lower ring is always full for TV.

    Roger Goodell pay me a million dollars.

  18. Just do what the big film production companies do for large crowd shots…use the same blow-up figure company that they use to fill the seats. It’ll look packed every time!

  19. Why create loopholes in the blackout rule when you could just get rid of it altogether?

    Fact is, teams need to maximize TV revenue (which blackouts can’t be helping) AND maximize ticket sales – it’s not an either/or thing, which the blackout rule implies.

    So drop the artificial blackout restrictions, focus marketing and pricing to maximize the number of filled seats, *then* work on maximizing revenue per filled seat.

  20. Lots of good ideas here. I think alot of the PFT posters should take over the NFL. We would be a in way better place!

  21. 13 years on the waiting list for Broncos season tickets and I am still 6,000-ish back…I feel bad for some of you poor slobs in cities that don’t love their team as much as we love ours.

  22. Why is this an issue there isn’t even a product to sell tickets too. First get a season in place than worry about blackouts cause as of now your favorite team’s whole season is blacked out.

  23. @ smittty2
    sorry guy, but, according to duanethomas and jakek2, we are just a bunch of uneducated toilet-cleaning gnomes who can only shill our bosses, the owners, lines.
    The only ones here who possibly have the intelligence to make any suggestions are the two of them (after all they both claim to be 6 figure income self-employed lawyer-accountant-theoretical physicist-nuclear reactor engineers), the players, and DeSmith (excuse me..they know him by the amicus insinuo term of “Dee”)

  24. as a Jags fan am i now going to see the comments/stories bashing every team that gets their seats covered like the Jags get?

  25. The Packers are making a mistake by adding another 10,000 seats to Lambeau within the next 2 years.
    It’s going to backfire on them.

  26. Workers have already begun putting a tarp over all of the seats at Paul Brown Stadium.

  27. and by “significant enhancements in the home-viewing experience” you mean , why the hell should a small family pay 700 dollars when they can stay home and watch it in HD with close ups and replays.

    Plus, its the NFL who’s experimenting with 3D technology and watching games in movie theaters.

    Good luck with green screen approach, not to mention the sound fx as well. That would have to be keyed for all cameras including shoulder mounts in the stadium. That’s a pretty serious undertaking when all you have to do is cut prices a little. And you can forget about it in Seattle.

  28. ernieernie says:
    May 31, 2011 5:03 PM
    The league will guarantee that if you live in a state or area where the team basically sucks, you get to watch them every darn week rather than have it blacked out and getting a good game on,

    Whats the point of having a “good game” on if nobody from that area will be watching it?

    Say all you want about my team (Buffalo) but, I personally am sick of selling 69,921 seats out of 73,079 and still having the game blacked out.

    Its not fair to all the hundreds of thousands of fans in Buffalo and Rochester that couldn’t make it to the game to have to listen to it on the radio. Cause thats what happens with die-hard fans of Buffalo, we’d rather listen to our team on the radio than watch some other team play on tv.

    Go Bills!!

  29. freedomispopular says:
    May 31, 2011 10:56 PM
    Lower your prices and I guarantee those seats will fill up in a hurry.
    I agree that would help, but speaking only for myself the reason I don’t go to games is more that I dislike the increase in the “I’m here to socialize, chatter on my cellphone, get up every 5 minutes to leave, etc. & not watch the game” type fans there are nowadays. I do think some of that would ebb when “regular people” could afford tickets but the same problem exists at movie theaters which are hardly at the level of NFL games expense wise and it’s why I rent DVDs instead of going to the movies.

    @ willycents…nice! I despise the elitist mentality.

  30. I really love after all the years of ignorance of Jaguar bashing when no one had no clue of Everbank Fields capacity (76K w/o covering and 66,164 with covers putting team on par with other NFL cities of this market) and now numerous other teams are following suit is laughable. We here in Jax have always known the TRUTH, but the TRUTH gets in the way of facts for you guys and the national media. .

    Look, I don’t live in other cities so I can’t comment on the in’s and out’s of other teams, but I do know the Jaguars and the city of Jax. As always Jags fans know more about this team that you. Just worry about your team and don’t let fact and ignorance cloud your judgement.

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