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UPDATE: Colts get extension on TV blackout

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The Indianapolis Colts sold about 1,800 tickets during business hours Thursday for the team's home playoff game on Saturday, but that was still 3,000 short of the sellout needed to avoid a television blackout.

Luckily for Colts fans, the National Football League gave the team a second 24-hour extension to sell the remainder of its tickets and avoid losing the broadcast throughout central Indiana. The deadline was moved from 4:35 p.m. Thursday.

Per NFL mandate, tickets for playoff games are supposed to be sold out 72 hours in advance of kickoff to avoid a TV blackout. Unlike some regular-season tickets, which can be discounted to avoid a local TV blackout, the NFL requires playoff tickets to be sold at full price.

On Wednesday, the NFL granted Indianapolis its first extension due to the New Year’s holiday.

The Colts-Kansas City Chiefs playoff game at 4:35 p.m. Saturday is scheduled to be aired locally on WTHR-TV Channel 13. If the game is dropped, the local NBC affiliate would be forced to air programming that likely would have less than one-fifth the audience as the Colts game.

The Colts weren’t alone. As of Thursday morning, the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals each had just under 8,000 tickets to sell for their home playoff games this weekend.

It wasn't immediately clear late Thursday afternoon whether the Packers and Bengals would receive an extension similar to the Colts'.

“I’m really not sure what the issue is, if it’s something league-wide or market-specific,” said Mark Rosentraub, a University of Michigan professor and noted sports business author, about the lag in playoff ticket sales.

The case of the Colts is the most perplexing, since the team has known it was going to host a home playoff game since Dec. 8, and that the game would be played indoors, said Mike Golic, co-host of ESPN's “Mike and Mike,” during the radio show Thursday morning.

Golic added that if the team was not able to sell out the game in time to avoid a blackout, it would be “an embarrassment.”

Larry Hall, Colts vice president of ticket operations and guest services, said Thursday that there were several key reasons why ticket sales for this Saturday’s game were slow.

First, he noted, season ticket holders had to let the team know if they wanted playoff tickets by Dec. 12, and it wasn’t known “what day, date or time the game would be.” Not buying playoff tickets does not affect season ticket holders’ ability to renew their tickets for the following regular season.

Also, many of the Colts’ season ticket holders are “snowbirds” who leave the area right after New Year’s Day for a warmer climate.

There are likely two other important factors slowing the sale of playoff tickets in Indianapolis this year, Rosentraub said. The economy is still sluggish, and the local sports fan base is spending more of its money this year on the Indiana Pacers, one of the hottest teams in the National Basketball Association.

“There are good people at both teams [Pacers and Colts] doing great work,” Rosentraub said. “But Indianapolis has always been a constrained market. Due to its relatively small size, there is just so much expendable cash to go around.”

Cincinnati and Green Bay also could be hurt by their market size, Rosentraub said, but neither of those teams competes for fans as directly with an NBA team as do the Colts.

Colts, Bengals and Packers officials are aggressively marketing their remaining playoff ticket inventory. Bengals players even produced a video urging fans to come see them play at home against the San Diego Chargers.

The rising price of NFL tickets and improvement in home-viewing systems continue to be concerns for the league and its teams, football observers say. This weekend’s Wild Card round of playoffs has brought that into focus.

“It would be a tremendous embarrassment to the league to have three of four playoff games blacked out locally, and likely, the tickets will get sold somehow to avoid that scenario,” said Frank Schwab, the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports’ website. “But there's a bigger issue here. Is this the most stark example that NFL fans aren't too excited to go to games anymore?”
 

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  • SHONDA
    Shonda, are you going to the game? just wondering.... What if Irsay doubled ticket prices next year....would it still be the fans fault for not showing up? The NFL has jacked up prices beyond what people are willing to pay. Lack of sales is nothing more than the result of high prices. The in game experience is NOT worth what it costs to attend. Has nothing to do with stadium size.
  • LOL
    To Jerome, Johnttr and any other person on here that want's to use this as opportunity to bash Colt's fans. Consider this for a moment please: Of the four wildcard games this weekend THREE had the same problem. Of those THREE cities, Indianapolis is the ONLY one hosting an NBA game (of a championship contender) just THREE BLOCKS form the football game. Additionally, the INDIANA HOOSIERS will be taking on the #2 team in the country just down the road in Bloomington. Those two events, in and of themselves, should be expected to have an effect on ticket sales. Anyone unable to understand this is clueless, sorry.
  • SMH
    We're about to have the smallest stadium in the NFL and we can't sell out a playoff game?! SMH!
  • Always Finding Blame
    What the H$LL is wrong with some of you people. Blaming the fans...blaming Irsay for not shelling out the money, blaming the city, ...... In what world do you live in where 3 teams are on the verge on not selling out and somehow its everyones fault except the people who are setting the actual price (THE NFL). in no other business is a lack of sales the consumers fault. To every commenter who just asked the city to pony up 300k to pay for the tickets, please slap yourself. This is not the job of the city. Gov wastes enough money. Its time to embarrass the NFL for their constant price increases. I'll stay home, and save couple hundred bucks rather than blaming the fans or Irsay. Those taxpayers are asking the city to pay for the tickets? seriously? you want more money to be wasted instead of targeting the real problem.....THE NFL REGULATES PRICES instead of market. No one wants to pay these high prices especially directly after Christmas!
  • Fill LOS with the Homeless
    Here is a wonderful opportunity to allow the homeless a few hours of warmth and entertainment. The City of Indianapolis needs to purchase the remaining tickets and allow the homeless a firsthand look at how folks spend $100 a ticket to a football game, and another $50 for food and beverages on a quiet Saturday Afternoon in Indy.
  • Fair weather
    I'm going to guess the predicted sub-zero temps in Green Bay might be keeping even some die-hard fans from the game. It is also a larger stadium in a smaller city. The fact that Indy can't fill a comfy climate-controlled dome in the playoffs is a little ridiculous.
  • Season Ticket Holder
    I think some common sense needs to be posted here. If all the comments were true then the Colts would not have 8 or more straight seasons of sellouts. I have 2 season tickets and a buddy has the 2 next to me. When we got the order we thought gee Colts are not playing good. We lost Reggie and do we want to pay $500 (4 tickets) to watch us lose. Decided not to. Time past and Colts got better but I can't get my seats now. I have thought about getting any seats but frankly I want my seats. In past years if we didn't make the playoffs the money just went for next year's tickets. I knew we were making the playoffs but there was zero chance we could win. If the team was in a hunt for the Superbowl I would have bought. Oh, I love Peyton but I still bought tickets 2 years straight without him.
  • Let the state buy
    Hmm, 3000 tickets @ $100(average), amounts to the state spending $300,000 dollars to let everyone in central Indiana watch the local team play in the taxpayer funded stadium.
  • Affordability
    Suffering middle class workers can't afford expensive Colts tickets while living in this Obama economy.
  • extension
    ANOTHER extension?? Who is in charge of the blackout rules for the NFL...Kathleen Sebelius?
  • Jerome
    Jerome- The Packers are also having trouble selling out up in Green Bay...do you think it could possibly be something other than a "lack of fan interest"?
  • Clueless
    Jerome, as a whole, sports is pretty much the only thing Indianapolis is interested in. You might live here a while before making comments.
  • Sad fan base
    Being a new resident to Indianapolis, its kinda sad to see the lack of fan interest in the professional sports teams here. Quite a change from living in Denver.
    • Italiano
      The people you voted into office decided on the food/beverage tax. How did your legislator at the time vote? Did you vote for him/her again? THAT is how a democratic republic (the US has NEVER been a "democracy") works.
    • Enough
      Just black the game out or don't. The NFL keeps changing its own rules. What's the point? Instead of extending the stupid time to sell it out, just televise the thing, or don't.
    • Forget the NFL
      Forget shoveling hundreds of dollars to see spoiled adults playing children's games. Take a walk in a park or expand your mind in a museum and support the underfunded arts in this 'burg. IN OTHER WORDS: Leave the gun, take the cannoli.
    • 2-for ripoff
      I was thinking about purchasing a ticket to go see the game and support the team until I was told that the NFL won't let them sell just one ticket. You have to buy two. That puts this out of my price range.
    • Blackout
      The greed of the NFL and the Colts is mind-boggling. The city and its taxpayers gave the Colts the sweetest stadium deal of any of the 32 teams in the league ( Colts anted up about $50M to he $800M). For a chump change outlay of $400-600K, Irsay could buy all the tickets himself and never feel it. If this is blacked out Colts fan should boycott a few games and watch for the reaction to an empty stadium with no noise, painted faces, $8 beer, $4 cotton candy, etc.
    • Interesting
      For all those people who might use this situation to question the loyalty of Colt's fans (Tracie, take note), thought I'd provide a link to an interesting little study to determine which teams had the most loyal fan base. Indy, as you'll see, ranks right up near the top! http://fansided.com/2013/08/18/study-ranks-the-most-loyal-nfl-fan-bases-with-in-depth-analytics/
    • Democracy
      When "WE THE PEOPLE" can vote on the stadium (and tax) then I will support it. The problem is that the "movers and shakers" have decided for us. Last time I looked, this was still a democracy.
      • Taxes
        Stop the silly misleading ranting. This is not about "affording" the tax - obviously a few dollars and cents are not going to break anyone's budget. This is about where those dollars and cents go. Do we want to subsidize full-day kindergarten or billion-dollar entertainment industries? It may seem biased to put it that way, but that is the reality of what is going on. For the record, I'd prefer to subsidize the Colts; that said, blacking out any game after the taxpayers of Indianapolis have chipped in is downright shameful. Mr. Irsay should think of those kindergarteners when he's holding out for a few thousand more tickets.
      • NFL Subsidizers aka citizens
        It is not a matter of 'not affording' the stadium tax. The point is that everyone has to pay for it. Telling people not to eat out if they don't like it is a joke. The NFL and the Irsay's are laughing all the way to the bank.
      • Supply and demand
        I'm not excited enough about this Colts team to pay $100 for a nosebleed seat. The problem with Ticketmaster / Colts box office is the rigidity of the prices even in times of desperation. I would pay $50, but they haven't reduced the prices to reflect the lack of demand. Oh well, black out won't bother me.
      • Over scheduled
        Adam has a good point...there are two other events that day in Indy with Pacers and IU playing at home. Plus, who expected to see the Colts play on a Saturday at 3 pm?? Of course it was always a possibility but the timing wasn't very smart. The nfl should be savvy enough to look at what us going on in host cities to find the best time to make the most out of ticket sales.
      • So the team is not fun to watch anymore, but a blackout isn't fair?
        Hmmm, Susan seems a bit confused...Manning took all the fun with him when he went? But you still think a blackout isn't fair? Maybe Andrew Luck is just a little fun to watch? For the final time, Manning was great and then some, but the Colts made the only decision they could possibly make with regard to that situation...18 million a season for the QB leaves you with not enough money to win...it takes 22 players to win, and a high powered offense doesn't outscore everyone, and Peyton and the Colts certainly proved that numerous times here, and again last year in Denver with a much better defense than Indy ever had while Peyton was here...ask Baltimore how much they like Joe Flacco now that he is hitting them 20 million against the cap...I am guessing someone corporate and Irsay, etc. make something happen to lift the blackout...if you are bidding for a Super Bowl in 2018, you can't very well say it looks good to not sell out a home playoff game, in spite of how Adam noted above that the NFL should have put the tickets on sale long before this week. The fact is this...the NFL can do anything it wants...it's a buyer's market for them...if they don't get every dime they think they have coming to them, you get punished with a blackout...they set the prices, determine when the games are going to be played, when the tickets go on sale, etc. As long as they get their money one way or another, the game will be on. (PS...there were better tickets available on Stub Hub yesterday, at cheaper prices, than the ones the Colts have to sell at face by the end of the day today...that doesn't help sales either) And to those of you who still don't get why the Colts let Manning go, you probably don't understand why if someone gives you $40 million to renovate a building, you get your name on it instead of naming it after a bitter childish sociopath who coached your basketball team for 29 years and now shuns anyone who actively still supports the school. Get over it already...Go Colts...
      • I love that people are still whining about paying an extra 6 cents for a Big Mac? If that breaks you, you have bigger issues than a stadium tax. I agree the issue is small market with many other entertainment issues. Why did the NFL give us a 4:30 start time with a Pacers game at 7pm. There should be a rule in pro sports that they can't/won't pull that. That is 18,000 potential purchasers who can't attend both. And many Pacer season tix holders are also Colts season tix holders. Lets see, Philly has a home game at 8pm on Saturday and the 76's are in Portland that night at 10pm. The other games? Played in Cities without competing sports teams. Irsay should be ticked and needs to tell the NFL they need to adjust how they do this. Of course there may be more to it since Green Bay has lifetime waiting list, but haven't been able to sell out. That is shocking no matter what their capacity is. Final answer is none of the games will be blacked out. There is too much money at stake for CBS, the NFL, and the Colts to let this game be blacked out. They will announce that the tix are all gone. FYI, the Colts and their sponsors give thousands of tickets per game away. To charities, to commnunity centers, to the military etc.... I love when the uninformed try to say the poor should be given stuff.
      • Re: Marshall
        "...I pay WAY MORE to send the children of my neighbors to school and fund the roads that you probably drive on than you will EVER pay for a sports stadium." THIS is the best comment I have ever read on the IBJ. It should automatically be posted under every article about the Colts or Pacers.
      • Mark...
        ... stadium sizes aside, it should also be pointed out that neither Green Bay or Cincy have a championship contending NBA team playing 3 blocks away on the same day to compete against. In fact, an argument could be made that the ONLY thing happening in either of those other two towns this Saturday is that game.... so what's the excuse?
      • Tax... really???
        I always here about the poor tax payer when it comes to the stadium. If you recall, its a food and beverage tax. So, if you can't afford the tax, you probably shouldn't be going out for dinner!
      • indymarshall@gmail.com
        Tracie, you're way off. Indy has fair-weather fans? LOL... I can think of MANY teams with a less committed fanbase. Indy has a string of some 100+ consecutive sell outs. You might want to actual check some facts before you start spewing completely inaccurate "info". Additionally, don't even start with the "but Indy plays indoors and Cincy and GB play outdoors" stuff.... Cincy and Green Bay have ALWAYS played outdoors while the Colts have ALWAYS played indoors. That shouldn't be a factor to consider for ANY of these teams....
      • Over a Barrel
        One big problem the article doesn't address. The NFL forces teams to make season ticket holders buy both possible home games, including AFC championship. In Colts case the 2nd home game is a huge long shot, so no one wants to front the huge cost of 2 home games, one of which will likely not happen. They extended the deadline twice hoping we'd pony up, didn't happen. So that's why going into this week there were so many tickets left. NFL needs to change that policy, I would've bought 1 game.
      • Stadium sizes
        Not taking sides, but here are the stadium sizes: Green Bay - 80,750 Cincy - 65,535 Indy - 62,421
        • Oh, whatever...
          ... stop with the "poor suffering taxpayers" crap. Your total personal contribution probably doesn't amount to more than a few dollars. As a single, childless person who CHOOSES to live a carless life, I pay WAY MORE to send the children of my neighbors to school and fund the roads that you probably drive on than you will EVER pay for a sports stadium.
          • Cincy Stadium Truth
            Actually Paul Brown Stadium where the Bengals play is almost identical to LOS in size. And the Colts averaged 2,500 more fans per home game than Cincy. Here are the numbers: http://espn.go.com/nfl/attendance
          • Agree with Rocky & Italiano
            If they blackout the game, we should be able to quit paying the restaurant taxes that are still going to pay for the Hoosier/RCA Dome. Do you think they'll have the roof open on Saturday? Make us just like Green Bay, Cincy and Bears fans.
          • NFL mistakes
            I think the NFL has made a couple of huge mistakes with the postseason ticket issue, in my opinion. 1) They put the tickets for the general public (non-season ticket holders) up for sale on Monday. This is idiotic since the Colts clinched the division THREE weeks ago. After the holidays fans don't have the cash to spring on these tickets on such short notice. I am sure they would have made an awesome Christmas gift if all tickets would have gone on sale weeks ago. 2) The Indy sports fan may have already committed. Saturday both the Pacers and IU play at home, mean thousands of would-be ticket buyers already have seats for a different game. 3. The home experience is more inviting. People have TVs, cheap food and drink, and the comfort of knowing who you'll be sitting next to to watch the game. Also, for the price of four $125 tickets you can buy a 40 inch flat screen TV. I hope the NFL realizes they are as much to blame for this issue as the fans.
          • Italiano has it right!
            If you take public money, you should forfeit blackout rights.
          • Reasons
            The combination of Indianapolis being one of the smallest NFL markets along with Indianapolis having some of the most fair-weather fans in the nation are the reasons behind this. Cincy and Green Bay have much larger stadiums than us, plus they are outdoor venues, so its not fair to compare Indy to them.
            • Come on Jim!
              Jim Irsay - Why don't you make sure the "underprivileged" fans who can't afford the tickets get to see the playoffs? Buy up the unsold tickets and offer them to soldiers and/or their families.
            • No Thanks
              Having been to many games, there is no way I'd pay for tickets and sit in the nosebleeds. $1200 for 4 "good" seats, $20 for parking, $100 for food and drink and driving home in a snow storm doesn't help the cause. I love my Colts, but the NFL has priced my family out of buying tickets. We'll save the cash and watch on TV (hopefully).
            • No cheap seats
              "Most of the expensive tickets are gone". I guess the $94-$155 remaining tickets are considered cheap. If the rickets remain unsold given the media coverage this pending disaster has received, perhaps the NFL is finally pricing themselves out of markets. Thanks but no thanks.
            • Unbelievable
              The Colts didn't renew Peyton Manning who I think is one of the greatest football players who have ever played the game and goes off to Denver and took his magic with him. The Colts are not fun to watch anymore and that's why people are not streaming in to buy these tickets. And we the taxpayers have paid for these stadiums and everything else regarding the Colts. A blackout is not fair.
              • no thank you
                I have a partial season ticket package with the Pacers because I liked the deal that the team was offering. My wife offered me Colts playoff tickets for Christmas and I respectfully declined. I am a fan who very much enjoys seeing the Colts play in person, but they have managed to price me out of the market. $200+ for parking, snacks, and a couple of nosebleed seats is enough to motivate me to so something else on Saturday.
              • Taxpayers ?
                Perhaps we should GIVE the tickets to the poor suffering taxpayers who are PAYING for this stadium (and without having a vote on the matter, I might add)

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