TAMPA FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Special Forces bring in the American Flag just prior to the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium on September 12 2010 in Tampa Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Local TV blackouts have been an ugly presence in the Tampa Bay area since 2010. That season, the Buccaneers stopped buying unsold tickets at 34 percent of face value. The Bucs probably had not been able to sell out games consistently in 2009 and perhaps in previous seasons as well, as the lack of on-field success and the economic crisis turned people away from the stadium. The result was that no Bucs home game was televised locally in 2010, and only three were televised in 2011: the two nationally televised games against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football and the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night, as well as the game against the Chicago Bears, played in London.
The Minnesota Vikings seem to be providing a way out of those blackouts, however. According to Tom Hauser of KSTP-TV, the Minnesota Senate has passed an amendment on the Vikings stadium bill that would prevent any Vikings game from being locally blacked out. Presumably, the bill would force the Vikings to buy up any unsold tickets to prevent a local blackout. This is something that other cities, states and even franchises could push for as well, as Alfie of Big Cat Country points out. Anti-blackout movements have sprung up occasionally, but haven't enjoyed much success. We'll see if this anti-blackout legislation does stick.
Of course, there's one simpler alternative for the Buccaneers: they could start buying up unsold tickets at 34 cents on the dollar to show their on team on TV. The team has tried desperately to change its image this offseason, and Greg Schiano was involved in a similar effort at Rutgers University. Getting every game on television locally would seem to be a logical next step in building excitement for the team.