Will the Buccaneers avoid the blackout blues this fall? Things are looking up according to Bucs Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford who spoke to the Tampa Tribune on Monday. With the arrival of high profile players like Darrelle Revis, along with a culture change from head coach Greg Schiano, it appears the Bucs are turning the attendance corner.
It is no secret the Buccaneers have struggled to fill Raymond James Stadium the last few season. People point to the economy, the stretching of their sports dollar and the area’s other attractions as reasons why they choose not to attend football games. And while these are all valid reasons, for the most part the excitability factor just hasn’t been there for the average Bay area resident.
That appears that is changing. At least if you believe Bucs chief operating officer Brian Ford.
"Our (season ticket) renewal rate is equal to the glory years, back in the day, so it's not like we're digging out of a hole," Ford told Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune on Monday. "It helps we've got the best home schedule. Two prime-time games, one on a Monday night against Miami when Warren Sapp goes into our Ring of Honor, and a Thursday night game against a division rival (Carolina)."
Ford told Kaufman overall ticket sales have increased by more than 60 percent from this point in 2012.
Over the last two seasons the Buccaneers have attempted to reconnect with their fans. The hiring of head coach Greg Schiano was the first step in an image makeover – intentional or not. While not the type of personality to want to be seen in the spotlight rubbing elbows with the big wigs in the area, Schiano’s blue collar, no-nonsense approach is slowly winning over marginal fans, and those who may have given up on the franchise after the disappointing end to the Jon Gruden and Raheem Morris eras.
Add in the fact the Buccaneers have rid themselves of negative headline players, and brought in big-named talent like Darelle Revis, Carl Nicks and Vincent Jackson, and the Buccaneers seem to be creating genuine excitement across the area, something that hasn’t been felt by many in a number of years.
Once again the Buccaneers will opt for the 85-percent capacity rule, allowing the blackouts for home games to be lifted if the team manages to reach that threshold in general admission ticket sales. The Buccaneers have seen 19 home games blacked out of the last three seasons.
"We're one of the few teams that took full advantage of the league's lower manifest last year and we're doing it again," Ford told Kaufman in the Tribune report. "That shows our commitment to the community that we will do everything we can within our power."
While no specific ticket sales numbers were given, the Buccaneers marketing department isn’t looking too far past September 15.
"Our No. 1 goal is tied to selling out that New Orleans game because that's where it starts," Ford said. "That's why we put it on sale early. We know we're in the entertainment business. People have a choice. It's not a necessity. So we want to make our game-day experience compelling."
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.