Last year, every home game played by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was blacked out. The prior year, most if not all of the home games would have been blacked out, but for the willingness of ownership to pay the 34-percent visiting team share for the unsold non-premium tickets.
This year, the team’s two preseason home games also will be blacked out.
But instead of having the mayor send an e-mail suggesting to folks in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area that it’s their duty to buy tickets, the Bucs are trying to entice more sales with more friendly pricing plans.
“Our organization has spent a lot of time listening to our fans at this time when our team is thriving and our economy is not,” Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazer said in January. “As a result, we are now offering several pricing changes in response to our community’s needs.”
The plans include a 31-percent reduction for some season ticket packages, and youth tickets priced as low as $17.50. Other changes include reduced parking rates.
The challenge for every team that struggles to lift the local blackout by selling all non-premium tickets — and that list currently includes the Bucs, Raiders, Chargers, Jaguars, Cardinals, and possibly the Rams — is to determine prices that, given the dynamics of each market, will get the tickets sold. In many cities, the teams refuse to be as flexible as necessary to sell all tickets, perhaps they fear that dropping prices during a bad economic cycle will make it harder to increase the prices to previous levels once the economy improves.
Either way, each team should be able to sell every ticket to every game, if the team truly wants to do it. While some of our friends in Jacksonville took exception to our criticism of the latest effort to sell tickets via the application of civic guilt, wouldn’t it make more sense for owner Wayne Weaver to acknowledge the possibility that he’s asking too much for the privilege to attend a game, and thus to slash prices?
Even though Weaver consistently denies any intention to sell and/or move the team, his failure to take steps to ensure that the stadium consistently will be sold out allows the whisper and rumors to continue. At some point, the locals will grow weary of worrying about the team leaving, and they’ll just want them to get it over with and go.