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Falcons say there's little threat of TV blackouts this season


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Falcons say there's little threat of TV blackouts this season

By CHRIS VIVLAMORE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Several NFL teams are in danger of having all of their home games blacked out locally, according to a recent report in the Washington Post. However, the Falcons president said he does not anticipate the team being in such a predicament.

“We really feel confident that we won’t have any blackouts, that we’ll sell every game out.” McKay said Saturday at the Falcons’ exhibition home opener against San Diego.

The economy is starting to have an impact on typically sold out NFL stadiums. Minnesota, San Diego and Jacksonville have publicly acknowledged that blackouts are possible. The Post, citing sources, also reported that Oakland, San Francisco, Detroit and possibly St. Louis could face blackouts.

Under NFL rules, games are blacked out in the home team’s TV market if not sold out 72 hours prior to kick off. Since single-game sales fluctuate with the home team’s record and the visiting team’s appeal, season-ticket sales are key to reducing the blackout risk.

McKay said the Falcons have nearly returned to season-ticket levels from 2006, before the Falcons went through the tumultuous season with Michael Vick and Bobby Petrino. The team does not disclose the total number of season tickets sold or the number of non-renewals from the previous season.

“We’ve sold 12,000 new season tickets this year, which is very good,” McKay said. “That’s been very encouraging, especially given this economy.”

In 2007, the Falcons had two games blacked out. A mid-season game against San Francisco snapped a streak of 56 consecutive sellouts dating back to 2002 and Arthur Blank’s purchase of the franchise. The season-finale against Seattle also was blacked out.

Coming off that 4-12 season, the Falcons struggled to sell out games early in 2008. Despite similar comments of confidence by McKay prior to last season, the Falcons’ season opener against Detroit required local sponsors to purchase tickets and ensure the game would be televised locally. The team struggled to sell out its second home game against Kansas City but did so just prior to the deadline. As the team progressed to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth, blackouts were no longer a serious issue.

Last season, 247 of 256 NFL regular-season games were sold out, a 96 percent rate. Still, the Falcons' first-round playoff game at Arizona needed two extensions before it sold out the day before kickoff.

McKay acknowledged that luxury box sales at the Georgia Dome are not as high as hoped, despite efforts to boost sales. McKay said there would be more single-game leases of the suites. The Falcons employed a group sales department for the first time. Season-ticket holders were given more time to pay for their seats. Season-ticket prices for the full season range from $350 to $1,500, with most price levels unchanged. Including levels that increased, overall prices rose 9 percent.

One game certain to be a hot ticket is the Dec. 6 matchup with Philadelphia at the Georgia Dome, with Vick playing for the Eagles. Single-game tickets are no longer available, but fans can get the game in one of several partial season-ticket plans. According to the team’s Web site, single-game tickets to all eight regular-season home games are sold out.

“Every game is different, but I think that [single-game] game allotment was 3,500,” McKay said. “[Ticket availability in season-ticket plans] was not a reaction to Michael signing [with the Eagles] it was a reaction that we sold those tickets out, which was obviously a function of Michael signing.”

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So ticket sales really are more directly affected by the win/loss record and not one player. Such a new concept I still am trying to grasp it. ;):D

Don't you know that since Vick is on another team that the entire city of Atlanta will turn to dust and blow away? It will become a vortex that sucks planes out of the sky and will be completely void of any life form.

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