Bucs season opener to be blacked out on local TV
The Bucs have confirmed what has been expected for days: ticket sales for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Carolina Panthers have fallen short and the game will not be shown on local television.
Per NFL rules, when sales do not reach a minimum threshold – in the Bucs’ case 85 percent of non-premium seating – at least 72 hours prior to kickoff, games are not permitted to be aired in television markets within 75 miles.
As of Friday, the Bucs said 9,000 such seats remained to be sold, making it unlikely the team could move that many in just six days.
There was optimism that this game could surpass the blackout threshold given the number of incentives. The game is being billed as a celebration of Ronde Barber’s 200th consecutive start, marked by discounted concessions, free parking and a fan giveaway.
It’s also the first game of the Greg Schiano era, and the new coach has been selling his team as a group fans can be proud of.
“We need to make the Bucs the buzz again,” Schiano said Tuesday at a local event. “I promise you these (players) and my coaching staff, we are going to do our part on the field. If you will do your part in your communities, we will make that stadium, Raymond James Stadium, the biggest homefield advantage in the National Football League.”
At the same chamber of commerce event, co-chairman Bryan Glazer appealed to business leaders.
“We're going to need you in our corner when we kick off at 4:25 this Sunday so we can re-establish an atmosphere that will fuel our team and frustrate our opponents,” he said.
The Bucs have had just two regular-season games aired on local television in the past two seasons, with all eight regular-season games blacked out in 2010.
This season, in order to address the trend, the NFL allowed teams to reduce the number of ticket sales necessary to lift blackouts. Formerly, clubs had to sell 100 percent of their non-premium seats to lift blackouts. The Bucs settled on 85 percent – the minimum the NFL would allow.
For at least this week, even that was not enough.