Chargers fear TV blackouts for 2009 home games

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Photo from 'pete ruscitti' via Flikr

Photo from 'pete ruscitti' via Flikr

In what was a surprising announcement from Chargers Park yesterday, Chief Operating Officer Jim Steeg announced they are well-short of selling out both preseason games at Qualcomm Stadium and indicated that “thousands of tickets” remain for all of the eight regular season home games this season.

While it is still early (the first regular season home game arrives Sept. 20), this could very well be a major concern for the Chargers and local fans if the next month passes and ticket sales are still slumping. There are still between 6,000 and 8,000 tickets remaining for the two upcoming preseason games, so it’s a safe bet you won’t be getting an early glimpse at your Bolts on television.

This is because the NFL has rules regarding broadcasts of a game on local television when said game isn’t sold out:

The rules dictate the following: Any broadcaster that has a signal that hits any area within a 75-mile radius of an NFL stadium may only broadcast a game if that game is a road game, or if the game sells out 72 hours or more before the start time for the game. (From the NFL Sunday Ticket FAQ)

The Chargers haven’t had a game at the Q blacked out since a preseason affair in 2006. A regular season game hasn’t been blacked out since 2004, although there were numerous close calls last season, where local CBS affiliate KFMB-TV had to buy up remaining tickets to meet the 72-hour deadline and show the game locally.

Ironically, this isn’t a SoCal-wide problem, as the blackout only affects San Diego. Those in Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange Counties won’t have any problem watching the game.

The slumping economy is surely part of the Chargers problem, but so are inflated ticket prices — as the cheapest face-value seat available at Qualcomm this season is an astounding $74 dollars. Like most others fans in a tough economy, spending half of that money at the bar and watching the game there seems like the better bet — or better yet, saving all of that money and being able watching it at home (hopefully).

Of course, the Chargers knew what they were doing in putting this warning out this early on, as they hope it will wake up some fans to buy some tickets and avoid the TV blackouts.

Good luck to them, because while I won’t be watching at the stadium, I’ll have my beer ready and waiting on Sundays this Fall at Jimmy O’s, crossing my fingers the TV gods will bless San Diego.

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