Six of seven home games played by the Bengals have been blacked out in Cincinnati this year. The lone exception came when plenty of Steelers fans made the drive from Pittsburgh to help fill the chronically empty seats.
With a win-and-in game on Sunday against the Ravens, Bengals fans realize that there’s good reason to buy tickets to the regular-season finale.
Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that fans lined up outside the stadium to buy tickets on Monday, with some waiting more than two hours in line. Sales apparently were buoyed by the buy-one, get-one-free offer to the team’s season-ticket holders.
“The response has been tremendous. I think there’s a lot of excitement about this Sunday’s game,” director of sales and public affairs Jeff Berding told Reedy, who writes that roughly 2,000 total tickets were sold during the first few hours of the promotion.
Coach Marvin Lewis has joined the effort to persuade fans to buy tickets and lift the blackout. “I think people that haven’t seen us play in person will have a good time,” Lewis said. “It will be a good football game. We are playing a very good football team.”
At Saturday’s game against a pretty good Cardinals team, only 41,273 showed up — the third smallest crowd in Paul Brown Stadium history. For the season, the team is averaging only 72 percent capacity.
We can only imagine how sparse the crowd would be on Sunday if the Bengals weren’t 9-6.
And while the economy can be blamed for the sudden shift away from the team’s turnstiles, plenty of fans point to their ongoing disdain for owner Mike Brown, who is perceived as being either unwilling or unable to attract the kind of high-end talent that could create a consistent winner in Cincinnati.