Bucs opener vs. Cleveland Browns expected to be blacked out Sunday
If you don't have a ticket to the Bucs regular season opener against the Cleveland Browns Sunday, don't expect to watch it on TV.
Bucs officials believe the game will be blacked out locally, based on the slow pace of ticket sales.
Teams have until 1 p.m. Thursday - or 72 hours before kickoff - to sell out the game or it cannot be aired locally.
News that the game will be dark is hardly a surprise. Both of the Bucs preseason games were blacked out against Kansas City and Jacksonville. 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.
It's likely that the Bucs season opener may be the only game blacked out in the NFL for Week 1. The Jacksonville Jaguars host the Denver Broncos Sunday but are confident that game will be sold out in time to avoid a blackout. Oakland is at Tennessee and Detroit is at Chicago.
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: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Sept. 26 and the New Orleans Saints Oct. 17. But what's driving ticket sales in those games is the amount of Steelers and Saints fans that plan to travel to the game.