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Tampa Bay Buccaneers lower blackout threshold to 85%

After two seasons filled with blackouts, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have taken full advantage of a new NFL rule to lower the threshold of attendance required to avoid blacking out home games locally. The NFL will now require the Bucs to sell 85% of their general admission tickets, which means 44,000 of those tickets will have to be sold to avoid a blackout according to the Tampa Bay Times. Premium and club seats are not counted for the purpose of this rule. With attendance at an average of 86.2% last season, the new threshold of 85% should see most or even all home games shown locally.

With this decision, the Buccaneers are also giving up a significant amount of income to avoid local blackouts. The new blackout rule stipulates that 50% of revenue from tickets sold above the threshold will go to the NFL's "visiting team pool", which is then split among every NFL team. Teams who are not taking advantage of the new rule contribute 34% of revenue to that pool. In previous years the Buccaneers had the option to buy out any blackouts by paying 34 cents on the dollar to the visiting team pool, but they declined to take advantage of that rule the previous two years, presumably for financial reasons. At some games, 20,000 or more seats remained unsold, and it would have cost the Glazers a lot of money to consistently avoid blackouts.

Instead, the Bucs have done their best to lure more people to the stadium. They have dropped ticket prices for two consecutive years, and have made a major PR-push this offseason, trying to revamp the on-field image of the Buccaneers. Whether they're successful in selling out games remains to be seen, but at least blackouts are likely a thing of the past.