Congressman Brian Higgins took to the House Floor to encourage National Football League (NFL) owners to voluntarily broadcast football games to local markets when stadiums are at 85% capacity, per a recently passed resolution. Previous policy stated that a stadium must be sold out before the game could be televised locally. Reports indicate that NFL teams will be required to set their blackout policies by July 15.
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Higgins celebrated this blackout policy change, hailing it as important momentum toward a more fan-friendly experience. Previously, Higgins had advocated for a change to the blackout policy, citing fairness issues related to stadium and media market size, and also noting the significant community support of football stadiums through local tax dollars.
The text of Higgins’ speech is below:
In my hometown of Buffalo, New York nearly half the Bills games were blacked out last season because, despite an average game attendance of 67,000, the games were not sellouts because Ralph Wilson Stadium is one of the largest in the league.
Last week we learned that the NFL owners passed a resolution allowing teams to decide to broadcast games locally when more than 85 percent of seats are filled. This is a change to current policy, which requires a stadium to be sold out.
If teams embrace this new policy, it will be a game-changer for football fans in Buffalo and across the nation.
This change would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of loyal sports fans, including the Sports Fans Coalition, the Buffalo Fan Alliance, and the Bills Mafia.
I urge NFL owners to opt-in to this policy and the Federal Communications Commission to consider a similar policy change. Fans support their local stadiums with their tax dollars; it’s time for teams to give them something in return for that commitment that they have made.