Bucs: Browns game will be blacked out
Because of slow ticket sales, Sunday's opener against the Browns will become the first regular-season game in the history of Raymond James Stadium to be blacked out.
"It's official,'' Bucs director of communications Jonathan Grella said at 11 a.m., two hours before the 72-hour window by which the game has to be sold out to avoid a blackout locally.
In its place, Tampa Bay viewers will see the Bills play the Dolphins at 1 p.m. on Ch. 10. Later Sunday: Packers-Eagles, 4 p.m., Ch. 13; and Cowboys-Redskins, 8:20, Ch. 8.
Both of the Bucs' preseason home games -- against Kansas City and Jacksonville -- also were blacked out. The Bucs had an announced crowd of 41,386 against the Chiefs and 42,640 against the Jaguars but actual attendance was closer to 30,000. That means about half of the 65,000 seats at Raymond James Stadium were empty.
In fact, because of season ticket base that is hovering around 40,000, the Bucs only have two home games that look like possible sellouts: Sept. 26 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oct. 17 against the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. But what's driving ticket sales in those games is the amount of Steelers and Saints fans that plan to travel to the game.
UPDATE: The Bucs' official release announcing the blackout offers a Q&A section to address some fan concerns.
- Will the game be available at my local sports bar, on my DirecTV Sunday Ticket, NFL.com, or my mobile device?
No. Per NFL rules, the live broadcast of this game will be unavailable to all households and businesses within the 75-mile radius.
- Will the game be on in homes inside the 75-mile radius if their television station is outside the radius?
No. As long as you live within 75 miles, you will be unable to see the game, regardless of the TV station's location.
- Can I listen to the game on the radio?
Yes. The game will be available to fans through the Buccaneers Radio Network on 620 WDAE AM and US 103.5 WFUS FM, and its many affiliates throughout the Tampa metropolitan area, where fans can listen to longtime Buccaneers play-by-play man Gene Deckerhoff and color commentator and former Buccaneers tight end, Dave Moore. The Buccaneers radio broadcast may also be heard on Sirius 158 and XM 106.
-- RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer