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With sellout, Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Indianapolis Colts game will be on bay area TV

TAMPA — It's official.

The Bucs' streak of 14 straight TV blackouts of preseason and regular-season games will end Monday night when Tampa Bay hosts its first Monday Night Football game in eight years.

The Bucs said this week they had about 2,000 tickets left for the game against the Colts, but they said Friday afternoon that Raymond James Stadium was sold out.

NFL games are blacked out in the home team's television market unless they are declared a sellout at least 72 hours before kickoff. That deadline for this Bucs game was 8:30 p.m. Friday.

It was welcome news for a team that has struggled to maintain its ticket base the past several seasons.

"The reason (the stadium) is not packed, we all understand," coach Raheem Morris said. "We have a tough economic environment here. But being that it will be packed, the people that come, they are extremely loud. (Sunday against the Falcons) you got a taste of it, and it was great.

"I can't wait to get out there again. They have something to cheer for again. They're starting to know our players' names. We're starting to grow up a little bit. We're becoming attached back to this community. That's what we wanted to do from the very beginning, and it's starting to happen."

The Bucs have taken numerous steps to stem the loss of season-ticket holders, including holding ticket prices steady, reducing prices in some sections and adding options such as monthly payment plans.

Progress has been slow. Though Raymond James Stadium holds more than 65,000, the Bucs had smallish crowds for their first two regular-season games. The opener against Detroit drew 51,274; Sunday's game against the Falcons drew 46,995.

But Morris is looking forward to that changing for the better. And he can't wait to see the environment created by bigger crowds.

"To hear the crowd erupt right down in our end zone, the jets going over the stadium, the cannons going off," he said, "that's always big time for me."

Under the lights: The Bucs practiced Friday night at USF to prepare for Monday's game.

It was key, Morris said, for receivers and return men who will have to contend with the glare of the bright lights, something the Bucs haven't done since the preseason.

"(USF) coach (Skip) Holtz and those guys were gracious enough to let us use it," Morris said. "I just wanted them to get out under the lights. We hadn't done it since the preseason. I just want to get those guys out to catch some balls, whether they be punts or passes or whatever."

Fine time: DT Brian Price was fined $7,500 by the league for what was described as unnecessary roughness against an Atlanta offensive lineman. Price used a technique to create space between himself and the blocker but in the process used a jab that made contact with the opponent's helmet.

Meanwhile, the league office confirmed that Falcons S William Moore was not fined for his open-field, helmet-to-helmet hit on QB Josh Freeman.

With sellout, Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Indianapolis Colts game will be on bay area TV 09/30/11 [Last modified: Friday, September 30, 2011 10:00pm]
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