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Indianapolis Colts' Voluntary Blackout Shows a Reckless Disregard for Fans

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 25: An Indianapolis Colts fan cheers during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Steelers won 23-20. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Nate DunlevyContributor IAugust 5, 2016

News broke in Indianapolis on Tuesday that the Indianapolis Colts were going to submit themselves to voluntary blackouts.

According to the Indianapolis Star, the Colts are going to disregard the NFL's direction and black out all home games that are not sellouts.

It's a comically poor decision for a franchise clearly intent on having a poor season.

The decision by the Colts is foolish on multiple levels.

Despite trying to spin the move as a plus for paying customers, the move is an affront to thousands of Hoosier taxpayers who are already footing the bill for Lucas Oil Stadium.

Colts Vice President Larry Hall told Fox 59 in Indianapolis (h/t CBSSports.com):

"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," he said. "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."

It's an embarrassing position for the franchise to take.

First, it shows that the franchise has no confidence in their ability to field a winning team. The Colts know full well that if the team performs well on the field, they will have no trouble moving tickets. With just more than 2,000 tickets left to sell, there would be little chance of not selling out.

Second, the Colts are missing a prime opportunity to showcase their product. Over the relatively modest amount of tickets remaining, the Colts are choosing not to display their product to the local market.

Instead of letting fans in Central Indiana get to know new players and form a bond with a new era, the team is instead choosing to deprive people an opportunity to get excited. They may move a few hundred extra tickets this year, but are forfeiting the chance to maintain a sold-out base for years to come.

Finally, the team is neglecting the very people paying for the stadium in which they play. Lucas Oil Stadium is a publicly funded stadium, and by refusing to air the games, they betray the public trust. Arguing that they are protecting the "fan experience" is comical at best.

If the Colts were interested in the "fan experience," they wouldn't charge full price for the fourth preseason game.

Some will point to the fact that home teams have to reimburse visiting teams for the unsold tickets and argue that the Colts would be foolish to fork over money for unsold tickets. The truth is that the small amount the Colts would pay is a cheap price to have their product put before the public. Most businesses would kill to get three hours of air time for the cost of a few unsold football tickets.

In tough economic times, the team is planning on fielding a young team with talent, but little hope of winning on the field. Instead of building their fanbase, they are choosing to fatten their bottom line instead.

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