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Strong reports of ticket sales likely exaggerated

For those who want to nitpick, this is an opinion only column. I have zero insight or numbers to back this up. I have not discussed this with anyone on the inside of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers front office or ticket office.

Over the last few days, word has come out from the Bucs front office that ticket sales are strong for the 2011 season (assuming it happens).

Ticket sales have been strong. They were strong in January, strong in February and they haven't stopped. There's going to be a 2011 season and our fans are excited about the Bucs. To top it off, we've got the youngest team in the NFL and people want to be part of it from the beginning and enjoy the ride

I have no doubt that the last sentence in that quote is true. The first few sentences though, smell of upselling, fishing for demand, and empty owner speak. Granted, the Bucs had a remarkable turnaround last year which surely got fans excited. However, missing the playoffs was a bigger deal than I think any of us realized. Making the playoffs would have driven demand up naturally, showing fans that 2010 was a step forward in the process and that 2011 would be a season that we all fans would want to be a part of.

Again, I have no numbers, but I have a hard time believing that in this economic condition and with football being put on hold, that fans would be putting money into any NFL tickets. This is not a Tampa Bay or Glazer issue, but an issue faced league wide. If fans weren't showing up pre-lockout and blaming the economy, ticket prices, and lack of spending by owners (the fans arguments, not mine), why would they jump on the bandwagon now knowing a lockout was coming? It doesn't make sense. I'm sure the Bucs have gotten renewal monies from some fans as they are typically due sooner rather than later, but I in no way think ticket sales have jumped through the roof.

And stating there is a 2011 season, well, that was just foolish in my eyes. It has no chance to come off in a positive way. It either comes off as "greedy owner wants money" by saying there will a 2011 season when there may not be (and lets be honest, none of us know, not even the owners) or it comes off as an empty statement made by an owner forced to speak the words. I wish Joel had left that sentence out, it's a no win situation for him by making that statement. And for the record, I look at it as choice B, an empty statement that was voiced to appear as optimism.

Of course, blackouts still may happen, a fact that Joel Glazer acknolwedged. Which in settign where football may or may not happen, what did you expect?

The fact is, with no idea as to when this lockout will happen, and in an area reeling from the 2008-2009 economic meltdown, it's unlikely fans are dumping money into an empty organization right now. It would seem to be an announcement for the sake of making an announcement. And of course, it all depends on how we define strong ticket sales. To me, any sales are strong right now given there is no product to be sold. Of course, perhaps tickets are flying out the door and if and when football resumes, I hope I'm wrong and Raymond James Stadium is packed each and every week with Bucs fans, but given the state of the league, I find this hard to believe at the current time.