Poor attendance at local sporting events would not allow professional franchises to black out games if the team or the league receives any money from the state under a measure filed Friday by a Tampa Bay area lawmaker.
The sponsor, Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said the bill (SB 836) was largely aimed at forcing the National Football League to show local games in Florida markets even if they can’t fill their stadiums. Professional sports franchises, including the state’s NFL teams, have been receiving funds from the state since 1991.
Under longstanding policy, NFL games not sold out 72 hours prior to kick-off are not broadcasted in the local media market. They are typically not available for non-subscription network broadcasts, usually within a 75-mile radius.
Fasano’s bill would fine clubs $125,000 for each game they don’t televise to local viewers.
“These teams are using taxpayers’ dollars to help promote themselves,” Fasano said. “It’s only appropriate that if they want to black out games that we take their money and use it.”
Professional sports franchises have long been recipients of state tax breaks. In recent years, lawmakers approved tax breaks worth $60 million over a 30-year period, about $167,000 a month.
Calls to the National Football League were not immediately returned Friday.
Proceeds from the fines would be earmarked to buy tickets for foster children or other non-profit organizations working with kids, under Fasano’s proposal.
Fasano has publicly expressed his frustration with the NFL blackout rule, especially since many of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers games have been blacked out in recent seasons as the team’s popularity has fallen with its record.
Last season, eight regular season home games were blacked out because of poor ticket sales. Overall, the NFL had 26 blackout games in 2010, the most since 2004, when 30 games were not locally televised.
“These tax breaks come from the people of Florida,” Fasano said. “They should be entitled to see the games they’re helping pay for.”
–Michael Peltier, News Service of Florida
Republicans are so concerned with the motto and if they can watch a football game on tv. How about they get off their fat, lazy buts and actually vote on some bill that will actually accomplish something.
The Geode says
Richard Simmons? Com’on, man!
Isn’t it counterintuitive to fine these organizations then spend the money buying tickets from them? I’d much rather see those $125K fines go into education- that’s 2 teacher’s annual salaries.
mike bencal says
Another foolish piece of legislation. The Jags are rumored (weekly if not daily) to be moving already. Facing the fines that are being proposed would only force them to move quicker. A better idea is to fine the Florida “fair weather” fans for not putting their butts in the seats!
mike bencal says
BTW I thought republicans stood for smaller government. I guess that doesn’t include what we do in the privacy of our homes, the governments ability to take a life, or in being able to watch football on TV.
Professional sports, is a for profit business. I would have been prouder if the legislator had filed a bill to remove their tax breaks completely, win or lose, Broadcast or no Broadcast. There certainly is not anyone working for any sports team at minimum wage or anything that resembles minimum wage. Take away the breaks, treat them as any other business. If they don’t like it (NFL) let them try and pull out and stay alive. Yes we are only one state out of 50, but #3 in population. I think they will all find a way to continue to do business without the “State & Local” subsidies.
Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium was built and paid for with Hillsborough County tax payer money. Those tax payers should be able to see the games on television. This is an antiquated rule by the NFL that has no place in society anymore. The Glazers even get all fees from parking and concessions not only for Buccaneers games but other events held at the stadium. These teams blackmail the cities they play in to get new stadiums paid for with taxpayer money, and reap all the benefits afterward, and then shutout their fans when they cannot afford the high priced tickets to get into the game.
While they’re at it, they should also find out why DirectTV is allowed to black out the Tampa game from my football package when they don’t sell out. I’m over 150 miles away, way past the supposed blackout area.