Blackouts expected for both Bucs preseason games at Raymond James Stadium
Bucs fans will get a dose of their new reality soon.
Both of Tampa Bay's preseason games at Raymond James Stadium - against Kansas City Aug. 21 and Jacksonville Aug. 28 -- are expected to be blacked out.
NFL rules mandate that teams sell out their stadiums 72 hours prior to kickoff in order for the game to air in the home market. The league experienced 22 blackouts last season, more than double from nine the previous season. It's the most blackouts since 30 games weren't televised in local markets in 2004.
Bucs Co-chairmen Bryan and Joel Glazer have warned since the spring that lagging season ticket sales as the result of one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and a 3-13 record in 2009 would result in games going dark this season.
The Bucs have utilized an aggressive marketing compaign to entice fans and lowered ticket prices to $35 per game, $25 for ages 16-under. They've also added new payment plans and waived deposit fees on club seats. But a significant number of tickets still are available for both preason games -- a harbinger of things to come.
The Bucs are not alone.
The San Diego Chargers, which is considered a Super Bowl contender, announced they failed to sell out Saturday's preseason opener against the Chicago Bears. As of Wednesday, the Chargers had 7,800 tickets available, too many to ask the NFL for a 24-hour deadline extension.
In fact, dwindling attendance could be a trend for all three NFL teams in Florida. Expect to see a lot of empty seats at Sun Life Stadium Saturday when the Bucs visit the Miami Dolphins, but that game is not blacked out in south Florida.
Bucs preseason games are broadcast locally on WFLA-Channel 8. If games at RJS are blacked out as expected, they will air the following Sunday on tape delay.