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Lockout may ensure more blackouts at RayJay

Posted May 30, 2011 by Ira Kaufman

Updated May 30, 2011 at 10:46 AM

By IRA KAUFMAN

TAMPA—The ongoing labor impasse could reinforce Tampa Bay’s reputation as the blackout capital of the National Football League.

Ten weeks ago in New Orleans, Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said club officials were encouraged by strong season-ticket sales for 2011. But the uncertainty about when, or even if, the new season will begin has hurt marketing efforts for all 32 teams.

Last year, the Bucs were the only NFL club with every home game blocked out in the local market. With sales stalled, Tampa Bay fans without a ticket may once again have to travel out of the blackout region to view games at Raymond James Stadium.

Even the one home game that appeared certain to be televised in the Bay area, an Oct. 23 matchup against the Bears at London’s Wembley Stadium, could be blacked out because the game will be played in Tampa if the lockout is still in place Aug. 1.

Until last season, the Bucs had not suffered a home blackout since Raymond James Stadium opened in 1998. Any momentum the club had generated from last year’s surprising 10-6 finish has been undermined by a prolonged labor impasse with no resolution in sight.

The Bucs typically stage their annual FanFest in June, drawing thousands of supporters to RayJay, but those plans currently are on hold.

Just like the 2011 NFL season.

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