The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans that gave up their season tickets might be able to breath a sigh of relief.
Although Tampa Bay's 2009 regular season home opener vs. the Dallas Cowboys isn't sold out, Sunday's Week 1 contest at Raymond James Stadium is expected to sell out and be televised locally, according to the Bucs.
Shortly after the Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2003, the team had a season ticket waiting list of over 100,000, but inconsistent play and a tough economy have led to a drop off in season ticket renewals and plenty of available seats at Raymond James Stadium.
Should fans not purchase the unsold seats, each Bucs home game will be subject to a television blackout, which the NFL defines as locally within a 75-mile radius of the stadium.
The NFL has imposed a 72-hour deadline (in the Bucs' case, 1:00 p.m. ET Thursday) for each team to sell out its home games before fans in the local area are subjected to a television blackout. However, if a game is close to selling out the NFL has sometimes decided to extend the deadline to 48 or even 24 hours before kickoff.
The last time Tampa Bay had a home game blacked out was during the 1997 regular season. Every game ever played at Raymond James Stadium, which first opened in 1998, has been locally televised.
Raymond James Stadium holds 65,890 fans. Tampa Bay's two preseason home games had paid attendances of 63,386 and 65,831, respectively. However, there appeared to be thousands of empty seats at both contests.
PewterReport.com has placed calls to Ticketmaster.com and the Tampa Sports Authority at Raymond James Stadium in an effort to determine how many seats still are unsold for Tampa Bay's game vs. Dallas, but both entities said those questions could only be answered by the Buccaneers. However, the team will not give out specific numbers regarding ticket sales.
"We still have a few tickets available, but we anticipate that the game will not be blacked out and will be a sellout," said Jeff Kamis, the Bucs director of public relations.