Tampa, Florida -- Bucs fans who are sick of those NFL blackouts have something to celebrate.
We could be saying "bye bye" to Tampa Bay Buccaneers blackouts. In a surprising move, the NFL's owners have voted to change the league's blackout policy.
That blackout rule has been the same for almost 40 years. It says when a team fails to sell out a home game three days in advance, that game won't be shown on TV within 75 miles of the stadium.
But, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the games will no longer have to be a total sellout to get on TV.
The paper writes, "Team owners have passed a resolution that, starting this season, will allow for local broadcasts of NFL games even when as few as 85 percent of tickets are sold."
"Under the new rule, each team has more flexibility to establish its own seat-sales benchmark as long as it's 85 percent or higher."
The Tampa Bay Times crunched the numbers and reported if this policy would have been in place last season, all seven blacked-out regular season games in 2011 would have been shown on local TV.
The team had never had a blacked out game at Raymond James Stadium, dating from the time it opened in 1998 until the 2010 season arrived.
But in the past two years, 13 regular season home games have been kept off local TV because they didn't sell out.
There is a flip side to this policy change for the team's ownership. It's something the Bucs will have to consider.
If the Bucs set 85 percent as the mark they have to hit, and they sell more tickets than that, then they have to share a bigger chunk of those extra ticket sales with the other teams in the NFL.
Still, it will almost certainly be worth it to the Pewter Pirates to get those games on TV and continue to build their fanbase and goodwill here in Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers have reduced the prices on 80 percent of their seats for this coming season. Prices on the other 20 percent have stayed flat from last year.
Plus, the Wall Street Journal outlines other features on their way for folks who get out and go to the stadium for the games.
- Free wi-fi in the stands
- A mobile app that'll apparently let fans listen to some players wearing microphones on the field
- And for the first time, fans at the stadium will be able to see the same instant replays as the referees
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