Pack, Colts, Bengals avoid blackouts
The Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals all sold their remaining playoff tickets during an NFL-permitted extension Friday to avoid having their games blacked out in local markets this weekend.
The Bengals announced the sellout for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers with less than an hour to go until the NFL's mandated 4 p.m. ET deadline.
In addition, there are no blackout concerns for any of the four divisional playoff games next week.
For the Packers, fans and a group of corporate partners, led by Green Bay-based Associated Bank, purchased the remaining available tickets Friday. Green Bay began the week with 40,000 tickets available.
"That's the way it's supposed to be," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of the sellout. "This is Lambeau Field. Our fans are phenomenal. ... I think it will be a great environment. Our fans always show up. This is the showcase of the NFL, Lambeau Field. That's what you expect, and I'm glad they came through."
The NFL gave the Packers a second extension after they originally came up short of selling out 80,750-seat Lambeau Field for Sunday's NFC wild-card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.
"We're very thankful to Packers fans, and our partners led by Associated Bank, for ensuring Sunday's game will be sold out," Packers president Mark Murphy said in a statement. "A unique season and other factors contributed to having tickets available, but with the support of our fans and partners, we're looking forward to a great atmosphere Sunday at Lambeau Field for the playoff game against the 49ers."
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"It's kind of different," Sitton said. "That's the first time I've heard of a blackout around here. It was different seeing that. I'm glad it finally got taken care of."
Meijer, a corporate sponsor, purchased the final 1,200 tickets to the Colts' home game against the Kansas City Chiefs and has donated them to local military families, the team said in a statement.
Now that the game is a sellout, it can be shown on TV in the Indianapolis area.
Colts owner Jim Irsay took to Twitter to deliver the news:
WHAT'S all this jibber jabber about a blackout??????— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) January 3, 2014
The Colts have now sold out 138 of their past 139 games.
According to the Bengals, corporate sponsors Kroger and Proctor & Gamble bought thousands of tickets Friday to keep Sunday's first-round AFC playoff game from being blacked out in the Cincinnati market.
The tickets snatched up Friday have been donated to a pool that active and veteran military personnel can pick up for free at select Kroger stores Saturday.
As of Thursday morning, the Bengals needed about 8,000 tickets to be claimed to avoid the NFL's first playoff blackout since 2002. Late Thursday, the team's Twitter account accidentally floated the number 3,500 before it was quickly deleted. At the time, team officials said they weren't able to provide an exact figure, noting that it was low enough to be granted an extension from the NFL.
Freezing temperatures are a concern for the outdoor games in Green Bay and Cincinnati, but Irsay felt compelled to remind Colts fans on Twitter that they'll be in much more balmy surroundings once they set foot inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
Here's the weather forecast for tomorrow at kickoff: 72 and dry. #usingtheroof— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) January 3, 2014
Information from Darren Rovell of ESPN.com and ESPN.com Colts reporter Mike Wells, Packers reporter Rob Demovsky and Bengals reporter Coley Harvey was used in this report.
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