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In the latest move to show that sports-ticket sales now take a back seat to television revenue and merchandising, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made a proposal that shows they actually want fewer home games than other teams.
The Bucs are currently negotiating with the Tampa Sports Authority (TSA) over a $100 million renovation proposal for 17-year-old Raymond James Stadium.
Under the latest proposal made by the Bucs, they would be willing to contribute up to $75 million, according to Ira Kaufman of The Tampa Tribune, but there is a catch. The Bucs want the right to play as many as two regular season games and one preseason game elsewhere, starting in 2018.
Two fewer home games is not insignificant, as it would represent a potential 25% reduction in the number of games hometown fans can attend. And while the team risks losing home-field advantage in two games each year, there are some advantages to playing games elsewhere.
The obvious advantage is that by playing games in London or Mexico City or some other destination on a regular basis, the team broadens their potential footprint, adding fans, and increasing the value of the franchise.
However, beyond that, the team also immediately increases local television demand (and revenue) by playing more games away from home while at the same time increasing demand and average attendance for the six remaining home games. While that may still result in fewer ticket sales, increasing the percentage of tickets sold gives the appearance that the team is more popular than if the team is playing to a one-third-empty stadium.
According to the report, in exchange for allowing the Bucs two regular season games elsewhere – the current agreement allows for one game each season to be played outside of Tampa – TSA wants assurances that Tampa will either host another Super Bowl before 2028 or a Manchester United soccer match. The Glazer family, who owns the Bucs, also owns the Premier League club.
TSA also wants assurances that both regular season games played away from Raymond James Stadium will not be played in the same city. Presumably this is to keep a second city from laying claim to the Bucs and potentially luring the team away on a full-time basis down the road.