Photo courtesy USA TODAY Sports
Tampa, FL -- It wasn't a sellout, but it was still enough. The blackout for this Sunday's Tampa Bay Bucs game against the New Orleans Saints has been lifted.
Still, there are plenty of people out there who wonder why any of the Bucs games are blacked out at all, since taxpayers paid for Raymond James Stadium.
And those fans may have a powerful political ally in their endzone.
The Bucs remain, by far the NFL's least watchable team in their home town. Not because of how they play, but because 19 of their last 23 regular-season home games have not been aired on local TV.
It's a dubious distinction that makes fans sad, and taxpayers mad. After all, the public paid for Ray Jay.
"If we're gonna build a stadium for them, let us watch the game!" said Bucs fan Troy Simpson. "I understand the rules were written 20 to 30 years ago... so let's rewrite the rules."
Bucs fan Craig Clark thinks that's only fair as well.
"I agree that they should be broadcast, no matter what," he said.
To those fans who think there ought to be a law... just wait. There may be.
U.S. Sen. John McCain has made no blackouts at publicly funded stadiums a cornerstone of his proposed Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013.
"It's unconscionable to deny those taxpayers who paid for it," said McCain, "the ability to watch the games on television when they would otherwise be available."
Blackout or not, the team still makes money thanks to the NFL's lucrative TV contract. But local workers say it sure matters to them, providing a big boost for their bottom line when the Bucs are televised locally.
Brittany Turner works as a server at Brick House Tavern and Tap in Tampa just a few blocks from the stadium.
"When they had their last game on TV this past weekend, we were busy," said Turner.
So what would it take for more Bucs blackouts to get lifted?
Well, fans buying more tickets, of course. Or perhaps the team buying up the leftover seats if it gets close to the 85% threshold.
As for the TV Consumer Freedom Act of 2013? It may eventually get passed by Congress, but right now, there are no roll call dates set to hear it.