INDIANAPOLIS — Colts home games could be blacked out on television in central Indiana this season if the team doesn’t sell all its tickets.
Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward said Tuesday the team has 2,000 season tickets still to be sold. If those don’t sell, the team will try to sell tickets for individual games.
“We’re a small-market team, and we need people in the stadium,” Ward said. “While we value all of our fans, our first priority is to protect the investment of paying customers.”
The NFL recently eased its TV blackout rules, allowing local telecasts if 85 percent of seats are sold. Teams, however, can set the threshold above 85 percent if they wish.
Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis has a seating capacity of about 70,000.
The Colts are in a rebuilding year after releasing quarterback Peyton Manning and several veterans and drafting new quarterback Andrew Luck.
“We wouldn’t have had season tickets available this time last year,” said Larry Hall, vice president of ticket operations and guest services for the Colts.
The Colts are sticking by the old rule — all tickets must be sold or central Indiana fans can’t watch the game on TV.
“We’re confident that the games are going to sell out this year, but if for some reason one didn’t, then obviously the blackout rules would still apply,” Hall said.
“We understand what the NFL is doing, and at the same time, as a small market team, we want to make sure that we protect that game-day experience,” Hall added. “Every year we’ll evaluate where we’re at, but at this point in time after thinking through it, home-field advantage is a big part of it. It’s a competitive advantage on the field to have the stadium full.”
A decade has passed since Colts home games were blacked out. It was Tony Dungy’s first season as head coach in Indianapolis (2002) and the Colts were coming off a 6-10 season.
Of course, if the Colts start winning, then tickets will sell.
The pressure could be on Luck, the top overall draft pick in April. The former Stanford signal-caller was 31-7 as a starter for the Cardinal. He finished second to Robert Griffin III for the Heisman Trophy last season. Griffin was selected with the second overall pick in the April NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.
Luck threw for 10,387 yards and 82 touchdowns during his career at Stanford.
, and set conference marks for career passing efficiency rating (162.8) and career completion percentage (67 percent).
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