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Raiders, fans get relief from new NFL blackout rule

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Fans of the Oakland Raiders cheer against the New York Jets at Coliseum on September 25, 2011
Fans of the Oakland Raiders cheer against the New York Jets at Coliseum on September 25, 2011

Yes, you read that right. There is a new rule that will actually HELP the Raiders and their fans.

In the past ten years, the Raiders have frustrated Bay Area fans in that the games were often blacked out locally. You can blame this one a lot of things-the economy, lack of competitive teams, etc-but up until last season, TV blackouts of home games happened more often than not. Now the league has softened their stance on the blackout policy and it is great news for the Raiders as well as the fans.

The previous rule stated the stadium had to be sold out by noon the Thursday prior to the game or it would not be shown on local television. It was cause for a lot of anger from the fans in Oakland as well as other cities who could not always sell out their stadiums.

Now, the new rule scales back the requirement and allows the stadium to be 85% capacity. In the Raiders' 63,000 seat stadium, that is nearly 10,000 less seats needed to be sold by the cutoff. Which, obviously, is extremely significant.

Last season, the Raiders put forth an considerable effort to sell out the games. They offered 2-for-1 deals in the week leading up to each game and the effort ensured the team sold out all eight regular season home games and therefore was televised locally. There were just 16 blackouts in the NFL last season; none were in Oakland.

In previous seasons, if the team was nearing a sellout by the deadline, a local business would purchase the remaining tickets. This was good publicity for them and most likely because that business had also purchased advertising on that channel that they would like to be seen by a larger community.

Now, with the new rule, it will relax the burden on the Raiders and the local businesses while allowing those fans who may not be able to afford a game ticket, to watch the Raiders from home or in a local sports pub.