League owners recently passed a resolution that allows teams some flexibility in setting their benchmarks for selling tickets. The team must now only sell 85 percent of tickets in order to prevent the local blackout. This means that the Bengals can reduce their listed capacity of Paul Brown Stadium by 15 percent. Joe Reedy, from the Enquirer, writes about the Bengals situation:
"If the Bengals, who were 9-7 last year and made the playoffs for the second time in three years, elected to reduce listed capacity to 55,689, they would then have to sell all non-premium seats to have the blackout lifted. In that case, they would have to sell 46,000 seats that are not classified as club or suites. Teams have until right before their first preseason home game to set their manifests. Once the manifest is set, it can not be changed. The Bengals could also keep capacity as is or reduce it slightly."
The option to reduce the capacity does come with a catch, however:
"Teams would have to share more revenue with the visiting clubs for each ticket sold above the base number. For tickets sold under listed capacity, the home team gets 66 percent and visiting teams 34 percent. Any tickets above capacity would be a 50/50 split."
The Bengals were one of four teams to average less than 85 percent capacity for home games last season. They averaged only 75.2 percent, which was a league low. If this blackout policy had been in place last season, home games against the Colts and the Browns would have had a chance to avoid the dreaded blackout. Reedy describes who the new policy helps:
"Besides benefiting fans, the other big winner in this would be the local stations. Fox 19 did not air any Bengals games last year and Local 12 had four blacked out. In the station’s case, a Bengals game is worth at least double in ad revenues. The fallout is worse on weeks where the blacked out station has a doubleheader and can carry only one game instead of two."
The Bengals have an attractive home schedule next season, including a Sunday Night Football game on NBC. Due to this, the upper deck, season ticket, and multi-game packages are ahead of where they were last season. The $40 per game season ticket packages have sold out and the $50 packages for single-game and multi-game packs are selling well.