What was reported last week by PewterReport.com became official today, as a Buccaneers team spokesman confirmed Sunday’s season home opener against the Detroit Lions would be blacked out locally.
While no official number of unsold tickets was announced, PewterReport.com has learned Tampa Bay is expecting an attendance of around 55,000 for the 1:00 p.m. contest.
Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris was asked about the possibility of another season of blacked out games Tuesday in his afternoon press conference.
“I can only control the product out there on the field,” Morris said. “Certainly it is sensitive and I feel for our area. Eleven-percent unemployment, that’s not necessarily football sellout stuff right now, but hopefully we can increase that and guys will come back and we’ll have a chance to do that one day. I look forward to it.”
As also reported earlier, the games with the best chance of selling out this season are nationally televised match-ups against the Indianapolis Colts [October 3] and the Dallas Cowboys [December 17]. Currently, tickets sales for those two match-ups along with the New Orleans Saints game have outpaced Sunday’s Lions game.
Despite lowering season ticket prices and creating 10-month payment plans, it appears the Buccaneers will be the only NFL club to not have their first home game sold out. Last season Tampa Bay was the only NFL franchise to not sell out a single home game.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, along with Buccaneers co-chairman Bryan Glazer, have both been reported as saying making the in-game experience more attractive a priority in the future. Glazer was a guest with local talk show host Steve Duemig last week on 620 AM WDAE and commented on the current attendance issues.
“Ticket sales are still slow,” Glazer said. “We’ve got the two nationally televised games (against the Colts and Cowboys) which are ahead of the other games this season (in ticket sales). But we’re still a long ways to go this year. We’re just trying to be honest with the fans when we talk about how we expect the game next week to be blacked out. We just want to be realistic and not put expectations in people’s minds.”
Unfortunately for Buccaneer fans, it may be another long season of not seeing several home games on television. One home game that will automatically be on local TV is the Bucs' contest against the Chicago Bears, which will take place in Wembley Stadium in London on October 23 at 1:00 p.m.