Local Bucs fans got good news Thursday, as the team announced that enough seats have been sold for Sunday's home opener against the Saints that the 4:05 p.m. game will be televised locally.
The team reached the NFL's minimum of 85 percent of non-premium tickets sold 72 hours before kickoff, something the Bucs did only twice in eight home games last season, against the Saints and Eagles. In all, 19 of 24 home games since the start of the 2010 season have been blacked out locally.
Blackouts have been the norm for Bucs home games since 2010, when the team's season-ticket base, once touted as having a waiting list of 100,000-plus fans, dropped low enough for the first blackouts since the Glazer family bought the team in 1995. Before 2010, even when the team didn't sell out games, owners were able to donate thousands of tickets to sponsors and local charities to help avoid blackouts.
Tampa Bay's average announced attendance for games at Raymond James Stadium in 2012 was 55,102, ranking 31st in the league (ahead of only Oakland) and 31st in percentage of seats filled (at 83.9 percent), ahead of only Miami. The home announced attendance had averaged over 62,000 as recently as 2009.