Oct 19, 2009

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

So…what is going on with professional football in Florida?

The Jaguars have already said that every home game this season may be blacked-out; they’ve already had three black-outs (including their home opener in which they fell 17,000 seats short of a sell-out).

The Miami Dolphins have various minority owners that are celebrities, and each home game is more reminiscent of the court-side of a Los Angeles Lakers game than an actual football stadium.

And the third team in Florida? Your Tampa Bay Buccaneers!  The Bucs are currently 0-6, and are traveling to London for their next game to take on the AFC powerhouse New England Patriots.  That’s not the worst of it though…This past weekend, there were more fans in attendance at the  University of Southern Florida game than at the Tampa Bay game.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially announced that 62,422 attended Sunday’s game between the Bucs and Panthers at Raymond James Stadium.

According to Stephen Holder of the St. Petersburg Times, the actual attendance was on 42,487.

42,487.  For an NFL game in a Florida city not named Jacksonville.

As Holder points out, the crowd falls well short of the 55,073 who showed up for South Florida’s Thursday night game against Cincinnati at the same venue.

The development compels the NFL and/or the Buccaneers to explain how the team is managing to avoid local blackouts.  At a minimum, the folks in Jacksonville could employ the same strategy. (via ProFootballTalk)

So…a couple of things. First a 20,000 ticket discrepancy? Wow.  As Florio points out in the article…how in the world are the Bucs not having their game blacked out?

Secondly, of course, there is obviously a price discrepancy between USF tickets and Bucs tickets (the average ticket price for a Bucs game last season was $120, which was 3rd highest in the league), which on its face would make it easy for USF to outsell the Bucs, but the Bucs should be able to charge a premium and get away with it because its professional football.

Thirdly, is there any reason to worry about long-term viability for the Bucs?  20,000 tickets is a pretty large difference between paid attendance and actual attendance…how many fans are actually showing up for the Bucs games? Especially when the team is in perpetual rebuilding, they have a rookie head coach, and are winless and aren’t in danger of winning anytime soon?  Apparently, there may not be much need to worry.  According to Forbes, the Bucs are the 8th most valuable franchise in the NFL, and owner Malcolm Glazer is known around the league for his frugality, which should keep the Bucs in Raymond James Stadium for a while…

Even if no one is coming to watch.

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