CT Politics

Connecticut Politics

Pass the wings: Blumenthal skewers NFL over threat of TV blackouts

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Even hardy Packers fans accustomed to frigid weather are finding Sunday's game a tough sell with the high temperature that day forecast to be minus-3. There were 3,000 tickets remaining Thursday. The wild-card games in Cincinnati and Indianapolis also were in danger of not selling out in time to avoid local television blackouts.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Even hardy Packers fans accustomed to frigid weather are finding Sunday’s game a tough sell with the high temperature that day forecast to be minus-3. There were 3,000 tickets remaining Thursday. The wild-card games in Cincinnati and Indianapolis also were in danger of not selling out in time to avoid local television blackouts. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Richard Blumenthal is siding with the Cheeseheads.

With the specter of local television blackouts hanging over three of the four Wild Card games on the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs because of sluggish ticket sales, the senior U.S. senator from Connecticut on Friday renewed his criticism of the controversial policy that requires home teams to sellout their stadiums at least 72 hours before kickoff.

“These blackouts are anti-consumer and simply defy fans’ rights to fair access,” Blumenthal told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers. “The price of tickets has soared. The joke that the NFL has become the ‘no fans league’ is fast becoming an unfortunately reality.”

A request for comment from the NFL was left Friday with a league executive.

Despite 319 consecutive sellouts in the league’s smallest market, the NFC North Champion Green Bay Packers entered the week with thousands of unsold tickets, putting one of the league’s most storied franchises and its only community-owned team at risk of a blackout Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

Both the Packers and the Colts were able to avert the embarrassment of a blackout on Friday, however, with corporate sponsors stepping in to buy unsold tickets to donate to military families. The Cincinnati Bengals are still on the clock. In all three cases, the NFL agreed to extend its deadline for imposing a blackout.

“To think that Green Bay would first of all not be sold out and then would blackout the game is just unthinkable,” Blumenthal said. “Certainly it’s a thumb in the eye of fans who theoretically own the team.”

In November, Blumenthal and fellow Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced the Furthering Access and Networks for Sports (FANS) Act of 2013, which would rescind the NFL’s longstanding anti-trust exemption if it does not end its blackout policy.

“For three of these games to have so many tickets remaining so close to the game in hometowns that have traditionally been supportive ought to send a signal to the NFL,” Blumenthal said.

The last NFL playoff game to be blacked out in the home market was in 2002 when the Miami Dolphins hosted the Baltimore Ravens.

For the first time Friday, Blumenthal publicly weighed in on another public relations headache for the NFL — the naming controversy dogging the Washington Redskins.

“I’m inclined to think they should rename the team, but I’m focusing on the blackout issue for right now,” Blumenthal said.

 

Categories: General
Neil Vigdor

4 Responses

  1. jim says:

    I find it hard to believe that with all the crap that is going on in DC that Blumy has the balls to to worry about the NFL! Where does he get off focusing on this type of issues? he just really likes to see his name in the news and it doesn’t seem to matter what the issue is as long it’s all about him!! Get this clown out of office ASAP.

  2. Ned Phillips says:

    We are pushing 18-trillion dollars in debt, and this Blumenthal is worried about a sports team’s name? What a dunce!

    GET SERIOUS ABOUT HOW THIS COUNTRY IS RUN.

  3. Peter Cuprak says:

    Want to change the name Blumy? Then pony up the money and buy the team. Then you can change the name. The name Empire is offensive to me so I suggest you call it the “Collective State” Building.

  4. Jeffrey Wright says:

    The Philadelphia Eagles sold out in two days. Your fans are committed or there’re not.

    Nice to see Senator ” I don’t have a clue ” has weighed in though. Apparently has has given his big-boy pants to Chris Murphy who at this very moment is trying them on as a hat.