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Could blackouts lead to Bucs leaving Tampa Bay? | News

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Could blackouts lead to Bucs leaving Tampa Bay?

Tampa, Florida -- Just days away from the start of the 2012 NFL season and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still haven't sold out Raymond James Stadium.

The team has had 19 out of its past 21 home games blacked out.

But could all those empty seats put Tampa in jeopardy of losing the Bucs to another city?

Some national media say yes.

Respected website profootballtalk.com suggested relocation is an option, saying "if fans continue to fail to show up for the games, at some point the team needs to be moved to a place where the fans have the money, the time, and the inclination to attend games."

But USF Associate Professor of Sports Management Dr. Mike Mondello says filling the stadium isn't nearly as critical for teams as it used to be.

That's especially true in the NFL, with a multi-billion dollar TV deal.

"The NFL is in such a great position with their national TV that teams and organizations, it's almost gravy what they make at the gate," Mondello explained.

If the Bucs did want to leave, Los Angeles or London could be options.

Another possibility might be a market that loses its team to one of those markets.

However, Lee Diekemper, of joebucsfan.com, points out St. Louis, San Diego, Jacksonville, or Minnesota could be in line to move before Tampa Bay.

"I think it's a lot to do about nothing to be honest with you," Diekemper, "the Glazers have one of the best stadium deals in the NFL and they just built One Buc Palace and they spent millions of dollars on that."

It's possible, though, another market could use the Bucs and the struggles with attendance, as leverage.

"My guess is they would look at the Tampa Bay community as a potential area to draw a team from," Mondello said.

The Bucs have an agreement to play at Raymond James Stadium through 2028.

They still need to sell about 9,000 tickets before this weekend's game to avoid a blackout.


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