One of the reasons why the NFL implemented it’s new blackout rule, a rule in which teams are allowed to set their blackout accommodations at 85% of total seats sold, rather than 100%, was for teams specifically like the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals ranked last in total attendance last season, garnering just 394,009 total fans through eight games, and filling up a measly 75.2% percent of home seats. So you would think that with the NFL implementing the new aforementioned rule, that the Bengals would jump at this rare opportunity. But, if you thought just that, you would be wrong.
The Bengals have declined to use the new NFL rule, and will instead focus on trying to sell-out home games, thus allowing them to air home games to there entire fan base in Cincinnati. Bengals owner Mike Brown released a statement on his decision, “We’re going to stick with the old rule. What we want to see are sold out houses and we want the stadium full with 65,000-plus people. We don’t want to get to just 85 percent, or 55,000. If you think back when they passed the sales tax to finance the stadiums, they did it so people could come downtown to the stadiums and watch games. They didn’t do it so people could sit at home and watch games on television.”
The theory by Brown is certainly a good one, as he will focus on trying to increase the team’s brand, but the decision will most likely backfire on him, and here is why. Fans aren’t exactly flocking to Ticketmaster’s, or rushing online to EBay to buy tickets to NFL games. In fact there have been multiple reports stating that attendance in the NFL, as a whole, is decreasing. Fans just simply do not have the money like they used to, what with the recent recession and all, to go out and buy NFL tickets, that aren’t exactly cheap.
The Bengals only sold out two out of eight regular season home games last season, but there is an indication that that number could jump to eight this season. After making the playoffs last season, and cutting ticket prices on nearly 14,000 tickets, the Bengals have seen ticket sales rise this off-season. One of the signs of this is the Bengals announcing last week that two home games, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Dallas Cowboys, have already sold out. Bengals owner Mike Brown states that, “We’re (the Bengals) making progress.” Hopefully, for the sake of Bengals fans, all eight games can be sold out.
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