The great blackout myth

Lucas Oil Stadium

With the news that roughly 3,000 season tickets remain for the upcoming 2012 Indianapolis Colts campaign many in the national media have stated that blackouts are a risk. This is a terrible exaggeration as the risk of a blackout is pretty limited.

To avoid a blackout not all 63,000 seats in Lucas Oil Stadium must be filled. The NFL only requires all non-club, non-suite and non-obstructed view seats are sold. While I could not get exact numbers it appears that the Colts have roughly 10,000 seats that meet that definition. In other words, the Colts don’t have to sell 63,000 although they plan to do so for each game.

Larry Hall, Vice President of Ticket Operations and Guest Services for the team spoke with us today to clarify the situation. According to Hall the team began a waiting list for tickets in 2005-06. To join the waiting list interested parties had to make a deposit. In fact Hall noted that “these people still have a deposit with us.”

Hall also explained as tickets become available the team follows a distinct process to sell tickets. The team’s existing season ticket holders are first given a chance to improve their seats. Remaining seats are offered to those on the waiting list with a deposit. After those season tickets are sold they attempt to fulfill the requests made for group sales for single or multiple game blocks. Only after all of those requests are fulfilled does the team offer single-game tickets. Hall also pointed out that during each of the last several seasons they’ve contacted everyone on the waiting list to offer season tickets. Should a member of the wait list not buy tickets, their deposit remains with the team and their name on the list.

In other words, this isn’t exactly new ground for the team in terms of the process. They’ve not had this many tickets available in many years but they’re prepared to deal with the scenario and will likely sell-out all home games.

As to the reason for the availability Hall has heard many are skipping the extra expense for their season tickets due to the economy but notes there are several options out there for people, “We have eleven different (ticket) prices available for people.” He also pointed out that while the Colts are not in the finance business they have some options to help people afford to attend games:

“We’re not in the finance business. We have good partners that know more about that. I like to say we’re in the memory-making business. It’s like a campfire or Thanksgiving–football brings people together. So our Colts payment plan is the Barclay’s card. We lead the league in new (card) activations. If you use the card (for tickets), make minimum payments and pay it off in six months it’s interest-free.” 

The team also knows that many simply can’t afford season tickets. He notes that the management team hasn’t “honed in” on a date for single-game ticket sales but expects preseason games to be available in mid-July and the regular season in August. 

While the team still faces a sales pitch to sell the remaining season tickets, they know what they’re doing and have done it before. The relatively small number of season tickets available is highly unlikely to result in a blackout although as Hall likes to point out, “You cannot affect the game from your couch.” Your best bet to see the Colts remains to buy tickets at www.colts.com or by calling the ticket office at (317) 299-4WIN. 

Todd Smith

About Todd Smith

Todd Smith is a part-time sportswriter who spends too much time arguing on Twitter. What he really loves is eating poorly and watching football. He got his first Colts t-shirt in 1984 shortly after the Mayflower trucks arrived and has never given up on his hometown team. He also still holds to the belief that Kordell Stewart stepped out of the end zone and thus cheated the Colts.

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