In recent days, a lot of readers have been asking about when – if ever – was the last time a Monday Night Football game did not sell out and was blacked out on local television.
It took some extensive searching by ESPN Stats & Information and a couple calls to the NFL office. But we’ve got the answer.
The last time a Monday Night Football game was blacked out was Jan. 3, 2000. That was Week 17 of the 1999 season and the matchup was San Francisco at Atlanta. The game was not televised live in the Atlanta market.
This has become a very relevant question because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Indianapolis Colts next Monday night. The Bucs have a streak of 10 consecutive home games that haven’t sold out and it certainly doesn’t help that Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning is hurt.
The Bucs aren’t giving constant updates on where ticket sales stand for the Indianapolis game and they’ve drawn around 50,000 for their first two home games this season. Raymond James Stadium holds about 65,000.
In a recent radio interview with Steve Duemig on Tampa’s WDAE (620 AM), Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer discussed ticket sales.
“Ticket sales are still slow,” Glazer said. “We’ve got the two nationally televised games (against the Colts and Cowboys) which are ahead of the other games this season (in sales). But we’re still a long ways to go this year. We just want to be realistic and not put expectations in people’s minds.”
I’ve got a hunch this one will go right down to the wire (72 hours before kickoff, which would be Friday night) and I think there’s a reasonable chance the game will sell out and the blackout will be lifted.
But, ultimately, this is going to come down to the fans and whether they buy tickets. Manning may not be playing, but the Bucs have done their part on the field. They went 10-6 last season and are 2-1 this year, including a big win against division rival Atlanta on Sunday.
I know the local economy is in hard times, especially in Florida. But, if the Bucs can’t sell out this game, they might not sell out any.