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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Raheem Morris knows there's just one solution to blackouts



Raheem Morris has done his best to avoid questions about the state of the team's ticket sales and the resulting blackouts.

But he finally addressed the issue on Wednesday with about the only possible answer.

"We just have to go out and play," he said. "It's nothing that I can control. The thing I can control is the product on the field. We'll take our team out there and do our very best. These are hard times. We understand that. We want to give our fans that go out there and watch us the best performance we can give them."

Basically, Morris sums this up perfectly. This team's games aren't likely to sell out unless one solitary thing happens: It wins.

That's where it starts and ends. Yes, the economy is a big factor. But at the end of the day, if the Bucs get off to a good start, then the demand will grow. When that happens, people will become more willing to spend money on the product. As it is now, money is hard to come by for many in this region. Under those circumstances, people will be unlikely to spend what little disposable income they have on a product they don't feel is high quality.

But the Bucs have a very legitimate opportunity to create some demand. How they fare against their early-season schedule might make all the difference.

The slate begins with Cleveland at home, at Carolina and back home for a game against Pittsburgh minus suspended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. That's a make-or-break section of the schedule. If those early-season games are blacked out but the team starts with some victories, people will begin to feel like they're missing out on something.

The Bucs have continually pointed out that there have been blackouts this preseason in San Diego and Cincinnati, places where the home teams were in the playoffs last year. So, clearly, a team's fortunes on the field aren't the only thing that impacts ticket sales. But as it relates to the Bucs, specifically, they've never had a problem drawing when they're playing well.

If they can get back to that, and do it soon, Raymond James Stadium has a chance to be full yet again.

[Last modified: Thursday, August 19, 2010 3:09pm]


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