Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer: "Games will be blacked out"
A few years ago, a sign outside of Raymond James Stadium boasted a waiting list of 100,000 fans for Bucs season tickets.
Like that billboard, those potential customers have disappeared.
Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said Wednesday at the NFL owner's meetings that the team's season ticket base is in the '40,000's.' and that it's likely home games will be blacked out on local television for the first time in the 15 years the Glazer family has owned the club.
"As we sit today, the games will be blacked out,'' Glazer said.
"Based on where we're at today, for the first time in 15 years, realistically, we are staring at having games blacked out in our local market. I bring that up because I don't want people to be surprised when they get to Sept. and they go to watch the game and the game is not on TV. It's not what we want. We're working hard to avoid it and I think people are starting to see what we're trying to do with younger players and Josh Freeman and building around that and there is some excitement when we talk to people. But we're in unchartered waters that we haven't been in 15 years, but this is where we're at.'
At one point last season, the Bucs had an actual attendance of less than 50,000 in the 65,000-seat RJS. But Glazer said the team distributed thousands of tickets to local sponsors and charitable groups to avoid local television blackouts.
Under NFL rules, if a game is not sold out 72 hours before kickoff, it cannot be shown locally on television.
"We worked very hard, whether it was with local sponsors or charitable groups or whatever to make sure those tickets were accounted for,'' Glazer said. "But that challenge is becoming unreachable, so as we look forward, we say, realistically, it's not going to be as easy to get that accomplished this year. As we sit today, the games will be blacked out.
"We have not had a blackout since we've owned the team. We've been hit by two things. On the field performance is the No. 1 thing that gets people into the stadium. Three and 13 is not what people expect out of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Two, we've had the economy, which has hit people hard. As a result of those factors, there's no question we've lost season ticket holders, there's been a lack of excitement in the community and a lack of excitement about what's going on the field.''
The Bucs are coming off a 3-13 season in the first year under new coach Raheem Morris. The team has not won a playoff game since their Super Bowl XXXVII victory in Jan. 2003.
Glazer said the Bucs' lack of success on the field is the reason for the dwindling fan interest.
"We take full responsibility,'' Glazer said. "I've always said if we win, people will be there. It's our job to win.''