OPENING HIT: The NFL has never been more popular. Not even the ugly lockout could injure it. It seems nothing can.
If that's true--and it is--then why are so many teams facing attendance problems?
The San Diego Chargers on Tuesday issued a release saying it has been granted another extension to sell enough tickets to avoid a blackout of its final preseason game.
It's an incredible situation. The Chargers are a good team in an affluent area with a large population. The Chargers have had problems selling tickets before which is why they are a main candidate to move to Los Angeles when that city gets off its ass and finally builds a stadium. Yes, problems before, but this still has to be concerning.
Indeed the NFL has to be alarmed over the overall ticket sale situation. Oakland, Jacksonville and Tampa are also having problems. In fact, all three Florida teams are having ticket sale issues. The Dolphins may be the most concerning of all. The Dolphins have a streak of 102 consecutive sellouts dating back to 1998. That record could fall this year.
What's happening? It's the economy, stupid. That's the primary factor. No question. People don't have the cash to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to go to a football game.
I'd also say there continues to be another huge factor in all of this: technology. To some, HD television makes watching games in the comfort of your own home more appealing than going to the actual game. Plus, at home, you don't have to worry about getting jumped.
Overall, I don't think fans believe going to a game is as important or status-oriented as it once was.
It's a strange thing. The NFL is at the top and fan interest is at an all-time high yet we're seeing, increasingly, I believe, fans staying home. This has to make the NFL exremely nervous.