See also "The One In Which Craig Dons His Public Relations Hat."
Dear Mister Brown,
A great opportunity is currently laid out before you. As you know, in just a little over two hours the end of the blackout extension period will be upon us and the Cincinnati area will find out whether or not they will be able to watch your 4-1 Cincinnati Bengals take the field against the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon. As of the last reporting there were over three thousand tickets that still needed to be bought to sell out the stadium. You probably know the likelihood or probability of the stadium selling out successfully more than I do, but I would like to propose something to you.
All of Bengal Nation has greatly enjoyed the last four weeks in which our team has begun a rise to relevance in the National Football League. Seeing that the Denver Broncos are now 5-0 with one of the highest ranked defenses in the league even softens the blow of the last-second loss at home to start the season which handed our team their only 2009 loss to date. This is a football team that deserves support; this is a football team that deserves a sold-out stadium chanting "Who-Dey" to cheer them on to a fifth consecutive victory. This is a football team full of players and coaches that deserve every bit of support that we as a fanbase can offer them as they go into battle again this weekend.
All that said, how can it be that the game hasn't sold out already? Our football team is enjoying positive national press the likes of which we haven't seen since 2005. Let me answer for the collective fanbase. There are two reasons why the game hasn't sold out. Firstly, the economy isn't in the greatest shape as you know. Secondly, as you also know, since you took over the team after your father's passing things haven't exactly been ideal for a Cincinnati Bengals fan. I don't need to write about the team's record or how that falls into the four major sports in that timeframe...that's been done hundreds of times over by countless writers.
This is the thing, Mr. Brown. The fans don't have a problem with the team, we want to support them. The fanbase is reticent to buy a ticket in this slumping economy where money is a far more precious commodity than in the past because they are reluctant to support you as an owner. Please don't stop reading, I'm here to help. I have a suggestion that can help begin to right the ship as it were.
Mr. Brown, what I would suggest is for you to buy up the remaining tickets and either a) send them to previous season ticket owners who have been unwilling to renew their licenses and re-up their season tickets, or b) offer them at the Will Call window at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday morning on a first-come/first-serve basis. I would suggest the former because I know several former season ticket holders that wish they hadn't given up their licenses personally. I know I am but a lowly blogger and as such will not likely be listened to seriously, but please listen to my reasoning.
In all likelihood someone like Kroger may do what was done for the season opener and do this for you. I urge you not to allow someone to do it again. The statement that you would make by eating the cost of these three thousand or so tickets would far outweigh what it would do to your bottom line. The fans believe you couldn't care less about them...this would show us that we are wrong in that assumption. You would start to repair the damage that nearly two decades of irrelevance has caused, and I would just about bet that we wouldn't be waiting for an extension deadline again for the remaining regular season games.
It would energize the team to know that their owner cares enough about the fans supporting them to make such a gesture. They would see an entire stadium full of fans excited to watch their football team play a game in person, maybe for the first time in some of those fans' lives. This would increase their intensity and level of play, which makes winning a football game more likely. That brings us back to winning five games in a row, something the team hasn't done since they went to SuperBowl XXIII.
That would also increase the chances of further sellouts.
You are an incredibly savvy businessman, so I think you can see what I am getting at here. The wise business choice in this case is not to sit on your laurels and allow the game to be blacked out, but to be proactive. Buy the remaining tickets so the game will be broadcast live locally for those who can't afford a ticket. Offer the tickets you've bought in some sort of promotion that will encourage your fan base.
Reap the benefits of a good decision.
Just to be clear, I live in Northeast Ohio so I will be watching the game live on the NFL Sunday Ticket regardless, so I really have no investment into what I have suggested. It won't benefit me personally for the game to be reprieved from blackout. I honestly just have the best interests of my fellow Bengals fans in mind.
You can really make a positive impact in both the immediate and the lasting path of your football team with one simple gesture today. Who better to buy up the remaining tickets than the man wealthy enough to own a professional sports team in the Queen City?
Craig A. Conrad (A Pragmatic Bengals Fan)