CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: A U.S. Air Force C-17 jet makes a flyby over Paul Brown Stadium before a game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Cincinnati Bengals on September 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
According to the NFL.com's Gamebook, the paid attendance for Cincinnati's home opener against the San Francisco 49ers was only 43,363. It's reportedly the smallest hometown crowd to watch a Bengals home opener in 30 years. Thirty years! According to Bengals.com, the seating capacity at Paul Brown Stadium is 65,535, which means only 66.2% of the stadium's capacity was full. Think about it. For every two seats, the third was empty and unpaid for.
There's obviously mechanisms at work here, such as the general boycott not to purchase tickets from a team owned by Bengals president Mike Brown. If he sees empty seats, some will protest, then he has to change his ways, they conclude. This isn't the only time that the Bengals stadium turned into an echo of silence with a bail of hay tumbling down the field. In 2002 the 1-10 Cincinnati Bengals hosted the Baltimore Ravens during week 13. Only 44,878 attended the game.
Some point towards the lack of seats being filled as a major reason that Mike Brown would "change". However it doesn't matter what the attendance is, only paid attendance. For example during the 16th week of the 1993 regular season, the Bengals hosted the Oakland Raiders on December 19. There were only 36,612 in attendance, however 55,430 paid for their tickets leaving over 18,000 unused tickets that were paid for. However the Bengals generally sold 50,000 tickets for home games during the 90s; Sunday began a trend where unpaid tickets could number 20,000 every week (except for the Steelers week).
Things aren't expected to look better and Bengals fans might as well get used to black outs this year.