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Prepare for the First of Many Blackouts This Season

The Lions have until 1 p.m. tomorrow to sell 4,000 tickets for Sunday's home opener against the Vikings. If the game fails to reach a sellout, it will be blacked out in a 75-mile area around Detroit. There's always the chance that the deadline could be pushed back until 1 p.m. on Friday, but the Lions would need to suddenly sell quite a few tickets for that to happen. (A 24-hour extension will only be granted if the team is close to a sellout.)

It isn't a guarantee that Sunday's game will be blacked out, but I'd be pretty surprised if it wasn't. The only hope for us fans in the blackout zone is for a company to buy up the remaining tickets. Gardner-White did just that for last season's home opener, though there were only 3,100 tickets available at the time. Before last season it was common for the Lions to be close to a sellout but not reach one until a company stepped in and bought the available tickets. I don't know if that will happen this year given the economy, but let's hope it does so there is no blackout.

What this says in the bigger picture is that Lions fan in the blackout zone will be lucky to see any home games not on Thanksgiving this season. I've mentioned this before, but it's worth mentioning again that if the Lions can't even sell out the home opener, what does that say about the rest of the home games? I think the Thanksgiving game will be sold out one way or another, but I'm extremely worried that every or almost every home game will be blacked out. Sure, the NFL is going to make the games available to watch online after midnight, but that is nowhere near close to being good enough.

The NFL needs to realize that in places like Detroit, where the economy is awful and the team has struggled for quite some time now, many fans simply can't justify spending the money to go to games. What's more, not selling out a game should not mean the fans can't watch it. This debate has been beat into the ground already, but I will make my main point one more time: When fans are unable to watch games, interest in the team drops. If fans aren't already planning on going to the game, the threat of not being able to watch it on TV will not cause very many people to suddenly go out and buy a ticket, at least not to the point where the game will reach a sellout. It's asinine to think that blackouts affect ticket sales very much, as they really don't unless a company steps in like Gardner-White did last year.

Since the NFL doesn't seem like it is going to do anything to truly resolve this problem, I wonder if the Lions could simply buy up the rest of the tickets. I don't know if that is allowed or not, but it's the least the team could do after all that fans have been through over the years.

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