Teams avoid TV blackouts with giveaways, business purchases

Fri Jan 3, 2014 4:09pm EST
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(Reuters) - The Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals all escaped NFL-mandated local TV blackouts for weekend playoff games by selling out their home stadiums.

Businesses stepped up to purchase remaining blocks of tickets in Green Bay, Wisconsin; Indianapolis and Cincinnati after the teams were given deadline extensions to sell out their games.

While sports playoff tickets can be among the hottest items for sale, in frigid Green Bay, the Packers were literally giving them away to avoid the possible local TV blackout of Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

More than 200 free tickets were made available by the team for distribution among military families, and 50 tickets were given to Green Bay Southwest High School for a special drawing, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Friday.

They went quickly. A spokeswoman for the United Service Organizations (USO) told the newspaper the 200-plus tickets they were given were snapped up in 46 minutes.

Among many factors cited for the difficulty in selling out was the short notice for fans who did not find out until last Sunday what day, what time and what team their home favorites would be playing.

Green Bay and the Philadelphia Eagles, who did sell out their home playoff game against the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, needed victories last week just to make the playoffs.

Bitter cold in Green Bay, where the game time temperature is expected to hover around zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 C), and the expense of tickets and a day at the stadium following the holidays have also been identified as factors.

Tickets that had been available on the NFL's ticket website began around $120 and ranged hundreds of dollars higher.   Continued...

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) leaps for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports