What decreased sports attendance means for us at home

empty stadiumIt's no surprise that consumers have been making cutbacks this past year in many area. I've written about how my wife and I were skipping out on tickets, and now it looks like others are doing the same. Even though Major League Baseball brought in record breaking attendance this past year, professional sports overall are suffering due to the current economic crisis.

With rising prices and shrinking disposable incomes it's no wonder that the NFL is expecting lower revenue this year. The commissioner even took the same stance as corporate America, toting the importance of cost cutting to league staff. The League already took action to change its labor contract in order to remain more viable in the future, and the price of an average NFL ticket rose almost 8% this year.

If like me you're a stay at home fan you may not think that these issues will affect you much. I mean you weren't willing to pay $67 bucks that an NFL ticket cost last year so why should you care about a $5 increase this year? Unfortunately the answer is both simple and complex thanks to the draconian broadcasting rules employed by the NFL.

The simple answer is that you might not be able to see your team on TV. The reasoning behind this is a little more complex. If you are cheering for your hometown team, in this case anywhere within 75 miles; and the home game doesn't sell out 72 hours before kickoff, your local stations won't be able to air the game...at all! This is because of the NFL's blackout and broadcasting rules which already limit how often fans get to see their teams.

While I don't see the league or especially the networks letting this happen on a regular basis, if the economic crisis continues and Americans decide to avoid buying tickets, those of us who watch from home may be left in the dark. Being a Miami Dolphins fan stuck in Ohio, I am used to not seeing my team play, but if stadiums begin to look as empty as the photograph above you might not even get to see your hometown heroes on the field come Sunday!

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