Empty Seats Are Becoming a Trend in Detroit, and For Good Reason.

Ross MaghielseCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2009

The Detroit Lions' game this Sunday against the Washington Redskins is blacked out and will not be available to the television audience within 75 miles of Detroit.

Six of the Lions' past eight home games have been blacked out. This trend will continue.

On Thursday, the league mandated deadline to sell out stadiums, the Lions still had 10,000 unsold tickets. The team barley avoided a blackout last week for the Minnesota Vikings game.

How many teams have trouble selling out their home opener against a division rival with Brett Favre as the opposing quarterback? I'd say very few.

But in Detroit, it's understandable.

Fans are upset, as they should be. The Lions organization has successfully alienated one of the most loyal fan bases in professional sports.

Detroit is a great sports town. More specifically, the state of Michigan is loaded with passionate football fans. It wasn't long ago that Ford Field, Spartan Stadium, and the Big House would all sell out in the same weekend.

Sure the faltering economy has something to do with the empty seats. But this is more about frustration and disgust than tight budgets. The Detroit Lions organization has slighted its fans continuously over the years, and now the repercussions are being witnessed.

It started when Matt Millen insisted on the team training camp being moved out of Saginaw to a closed facility in Allen Park. Millen didn't like the family atmosphere at Saginaw Valley State University and all of the fan interaction that took place.

After that came the dismissal of play-by-play radio voice Mark Champion. Fans loved Champion because he wasn't afraid to call out the team and voice his own frustration. He was the voice of the fans, before getting replaced by company man Dan Miller.

After that came the continuous increase in ticket prices. Then the botched draft choices. Then the 0-16 season.

And here we are.

Sunday's blackout is not a result of the Lions being 0-2. Detroiters have supported losing football for eons.

It's about a consistent under appreciation shown to the fans by the Lions organization. It will take years for the Lions to repair that relationship, just as it took years to destroy.

The people of Michigan no longer love this football team the way they once did. Until that fence can be mended, more blackouts will follow.