The San Diego Chargers — who have been plagued by blackouts in recent seasons — had the opportunity to lower their blackout threshold but opted to continue to require the stadium to be 100% sold out.
Fast forward to this week, when the Chargers had to sell 6,300 non-luxury tickets to Saturday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys in order to meet the 100% requirement. The Chargers managed to only sell 700 of those, meaning the game will be blacked out locally. Had the Chargers lowered their blackout threshold to 85%, the game would have aired.
The Chargers managed to sell out their first preseason game, which was a victory over the Green Bay Packers. But Packers fans must have accounted for several of those tickets given the large number remaining for the Cowboys.
Keep in mind that the stadium the Chargers play in was fully financed by the public and that they are currently waging a public relations campaign to get the public to pay for a new stadium (…or else they’ll move to LA). And remember that Chargers owner Alex Spanos is the 375th richest American, worth $1.1 billion.
He bought the Chargers for $74 million in 1984 and the team is now valued at $920 million. He could easily write a check to cover the remaining tickets (at the special owner rate of 34 cents on the dollar) so the game airs locally.
It continues to amaze us that despite the overwhelming evidence that blackouts don’t work, NFL owners insist on blacking out their fans (many of whom are disabled and elderly), thus decreasing overall interest in the team.