The Kansas City Chiefs will be blacked out for the first time this weekend in nearly 20 years. Many have questioned why ownership didn’t step in and heroically keep the streak alive and Bob Gretz provided an answer this morning.
Last year, maybe even as far back as ‘07, the Chiefs decided they would make up the difference and buy enough tickets to qualify the games to be on local television. This was a decision that had to be made at the very top and the Hunt family decided it was worth the investment.
And believe me, it was an investment. The ticket revenue at NFL games is shared with the visiting team. If the home team is going to declare a blackout, they must make up the difference between actual gate receipts and the manifest number they turn into the NFL at the start of each season. For instance, if a team says its capacity is 60,000 and that the price of all those tickets will bring in an average of $75 per seat, that’s a gate of $4,500,000.
The NFL split is 60-40, so the home team is due $2.7 million and the visitors $1.8 million.
If the home team sells only 55,000 seats but wants to put the game on local television, the visitors share would be $1.65 million. That means the home team would have to pay an extra $150,000 into the visitors pot.
Start doing that on a regular basis and the output by the home team can start to grow into big money. If there were even fewer than 5,000 unsold tickets, it can get to be very expensive.
So why would the Hunts spend that kind of money to keep the games on local television? One reason was the streak itself; they didn’t want to see that end, even when in reality it expired two years ago. More importantly was an internal debate that teams around the league have gone through over the years. Owners and their minions worry that if the game isn’t on local TV, the fans will forget about them. They will get used to not having the games and if the team is bad, they will fade from the radar screen of the average sports fan.
When it comes time to purchase season tickets, the interest will be less and the knowledge that there are tickets available will keep buyers from making an early commitment. Teams love the early commitment, because that’s money in house and can be banked and interest earned on top of the cash. The season ticket is also a commitment, no matter the skill of the team. That’s money invested no matter the record, outlook or whether the team made a fourth down conversion, or the quarterback threw four interceptions.
When the team’s record is bad and the money isn’t in the bank, that’s when owners get worried.
That’s what happened to the Chiefs in the late 1970s and most of the 1980s. In 1972, the Chiefs had 72,855 seats held by season ticketholders. By 1980, that number was 32,105 season ticketholders seats. By the 1986 season, the number was 26,074.
No one around the Chiefs will reveal where the team finished as far as season tickets for the 2009 season. Suffice is to say it wasn’t the 72,855 of 1972, and it wasn’t the 32,105 of 1986. It was somewhere in between, but definitely closer to ‘86 than ‘72.
Any Chiefs fan angry that this game will be blacked out should first thank the Hunts for carrying the streak of blackouts as far as they did. Over the last couple years it’s probably cost them millions of dollars to make the books work right for the league’s split pf gate revenues.
A great read (as always) from Gretz and definitely explains why Clark Hunt didn’t go the extra step this week. But as I wrote over at Chiefs Chatter I really wish he would have played Santa one final time this weekend. Of all the games to decide not to buy up the extra tickets you pick the final home game of the season?
I understand it’s real easy to spend money when it’s not yours, I just can’t wrap my head around why the Hunts wouldn’t want to carry the streak (and some goodwill of some sort, however small) into next season.
If you live in the Kansas City Metro area then you won’t get to see a player the Chiefs are very excited about, UDFA Dion Gales, play the second game of his career.
He got into the Buffalo backfield a couple of times, but missed the tackle on what could have been a big play for the Chiefs.
Still, look for Gales to continue to get playing time, particularly if Glenn Dorsey’s knee injury limits his participation in Sunday’s game against Cleveland at Arrowhead Stadium.
“He’s a guy we’ve been excited about,” Haley said. “He’s been a pleasant surprise. He’s kind of forced us to take a look at this guy. He showed some flashes. I would have loved for him to have made the two tackles in the backfield.
“That was a good start for Dion. It isn’t about just the climb for him. He’s got to know he’s got to continue to progress.”
Gales went to camp with the Chiefs and spent the regular season on the practice squad until he was promoted to the active roster last week.
Those two times he got into the backfield perfectly represented last week’s game. Great effort, poor execution.
Haley must high Gales in high regard if he keeps giving him reps in the middle even though he is undersized for the position. He proved last week the ability to fight into the backfield, now he just has to prove he can finish the job.
In one of the saddest stories of the NFL season, Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry died yesterday of complications from injuries after falling out of the back of a pickup truck. This news hit one Browns player harder than the rest.
Guard Eric Steinbach played three seasons in Cincinnati as a teammate of Chris Henry.
“He just had some issues with the law,” Steinbach said. “He was a kid. He was younger and made some mistakes. The last couple years, I think he kind of woke up and realized that he had a great opportunity. He was doing that and then this tragedy happened. It’s a very tough loss.”
There will be a moment of silence for Henry before the Chiefs-Browns game Sunday.