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OPINION - Packers tickets

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)  -  I’m confident that the Packers game will be on television. (And if they’re not, of course, the game will on the radio on WSAU AM-550 FM-99.9.) It’s inconceivable with the broad, deep Packers fan base that a playoff game at iconic Lambeau Field wouldn’t be sold out.

The team announced at 10:30 this morning (Thursday) that they have about 5,500 tickets remaining to sell. That’s down from 7,500 late yesterday afternoon.

I’d image the team would ask for and receive an extension from the NFL. It would give them another 24 hours. The Packers say a decision on requesting the extension from the league office will be made later this afternoon. With that extension, a sellout would be virtually assured.

And the Packers haven’t pulled out all the stops yet. The team has already done the easy stuff… lifting the four-per-person ticket limit, sending out emails to Packers shareholders (most of whom are not season ticket holders), sending blasts to their 600,000+ twitter followers, and opening up the Lambeau box office for walk-up sales today. Next comes the discounting – offering them for $20 or $25 each. (By the way, it’s unclear if this is allowed. NFL teams get to set their own ticket prices for regular season games. The league may control pricing for playoff games.) There’s also the possibility that the team would buy the tickets, or find a corporate sponsor to buy them, and then sell them at discount on the secondary market.

Even if there is a blackout, many people will see the game anyway. Satellite providers are notoriously bad geographic blackouts – which means some people may still have access to a Fox affiliate somewhere that’s broadcasting the game. People are also more likely to have technology “fixes” for blackouts – getting streaming video from somewhere else where the game is being shown. Others will simply drive somewhere to watch the game – like Madison or Eau Claire – which are outside the blackout zone.

The NFL will have to deal with this. There are four playoff games this weekend, and three of them have weak-to-poor ticket sales (Cincinnati, Green Bay, and Indianapolis). Do people prefer the HD-at-home experience to the stadium experience? Are prices too high? Is it just a perfect-storm for the Packers, with season ticketholders holding back while Aaron Rodgers was injured and the playoffs seemed unlikely?

I’m certain that NFL blackout policy will be revised if the Packers, Colts and Bengals can’t sell all of their tickets.

Chris Conley
1.2.14