from the seriously? dept
In the case of the NFL, the rule is that teams have to have 85% of their capacity sold by the Thursday before a game to keep the TV blackout rule from being triggered. Well, the Oakland Raiders, one team who has more trouble than most getting fans into the stands (because they're horrible), has a plan to get around the NFL blackout rules. This amazing plan is...covering up a bunch of the seats in O.co Coliseum to reduce capacity and thereby increase the percentage of filled seats for their games.
CEO Amy Trask announced yesterday that the Raiders will be eliminating nearly 10,000 seats for next season, mostly by covering up Mount Davis with a tarp. Mount Davis is the nickname given to the tier of seats installed in a 1996 renovation, ruining the backdrop view of the Oakland hills that were a staple at A's games. They're steep (nearly to the point of being unsafe) and the upper reaches are comically distant from the action. And they've gone mostly empty, being tarped off for baseball since 2006.For those of you who haven't followed much in the way of sports business in the past, this is certifiably insane. That said, the insanity is on the part of the NFL, not the Raiders, who are only trying to get creative in routing around the restrictive blackout policy. They clearly understand that getting their games on TV is the best way to build their fanbase, which will result in more attendance at the stadium. The NFL, however, appears to think that nixing the broadcast a few days before the game will drive more attendance at the gates. This logic fails what I like to call "The Blackhawk Effect" (See, Mike? I can coin terms too!), where once the local blackouts of Chicago Blackhawks games was lifted, the previously unattended games were suddenly filled to capacity.
What the NFL should be encouraging teams to do is go the other direction and open up even more ways for fans to view the games, whether by attending, watching on TV, or streaming. Instead, they're forcing their member teams like the Raiders to tarp over part of their seating capacity just to avoid arbitrary blackout restrictions. How less fan-friendly could a league get?