“It’s The Economy Stupid”

November 11th, 2010

Joe’s not going to get all political here but it’s a valid segue.

In 1992, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was elected as the 42nd president of the United States, largely running on a rallying cry from one of his trusted advisors, James Carville, who famously said, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Just last week, a virtual national earthquake took place as voters across the land saw fit to enable Republicans to take over the House of Representatives. The theory of why this took place is widely believed to be many Americans are dissatisfied at the change promised when Obama took office two years ago, or that the change isn’t exactly what people expected.

It’s the economy, as Carville pointed out 18 years prior.

In a few short hours, the Bucs will announce the Carolina game will be blacked out. This is hardly a revelation as the Bucs earlier this year expected, based on forecast of ticket sales and the sluggish gate for all but one home game previously, something monumental would have to take place to sell out a game this season.

And folks, just because the GOP took over the House, and the Bucs are 5-3, that will not mean that all of a sudden people in this area people are back to work at their normal jobs, that their houses are no longer underwater and that people’s checking accounts are miraculously flush with cash.

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the immediate Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough and Pinellas counties) 12.4 percent of the workforce is unemployed. Of course, a good chunk of fans come from outer lying areas and the unemployment news there is grim as well.

In Orlando, 11.8 of the populous are out of work. Bradenton-Sarasota area unemployment rate is 12.6. Lakeland is 13.3. Fort Myers is 13.4. Ocala is 14.3.

Those are ugly numbers folks and that doesn’t factor in those who either had their unemployment benefits dry up or those that, for simple pride, won’t collect unemployment.

Many who are employed are working two jobs or at jobs where they made a fraction of their salary some three or four years ago. A third of the area’s homes are underwater.

It’s not just here, it’s all over. Oakland broke a string of 11 consecutive blackouts. That was largely due to the fact the Raiders were playing the Chiefs for the lead in the AFC West and both teams have one of the NFL’s iconic rivalries.

The Bucs have no such rivalry.

San Diego has struggled to sell out, a team with one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks and a squad expected to have much success this season. Detroit, of course, has had a rough time selling out. St. Louis needs the aid of Anheuser-Busch and local TV stations to prevent blackouts. Baseball season is over in St. Louis so locals can’t use that excuse.

Last year, when the Bucs did not have a blackout, there were 22 blackouts throughout the NFL, the most in five years. This year through eight weeks there have been 13 blackouts, including the four locally.

Yet some Bucs fans mistakenly point their fingers at Team Glazer for the root cause of the blackouts. Wha, what???

Joe has written this before in various replies to reader comments: Joe finds it disingenuous at best to mock a fan for not being a “true Bucs fan” because he or she cannot afford to go to a game. What, they are supposed to throw away a mortgage to buy season tickets, really? By that same logic, the only “true Bucs fans” buy luxury boxes.

There are other examples locally of how sports fans have been stung by the downturn in business.

The Rays won the American League East division and only when the Rays graciously gave away 20,000 free tickets was the team able to pack the Fruitdome, the final regular season home game.

Tuesday night the Lightning, having a great season with a fun, exciting new offense led by NHL scoring leader Steven Stamkos, only pulled in 16,000 on a Tuesday night where, not only was there nothing else going on, but the game was not televised locally.

Upper deck tickets for Bolts games are very, very reasonable and a Bolts game is a fantastic time. Just a couple of years ago, the Bolts had two straight seasons of sellouts with a less than ideal team. Now, they can’t get a sellout despite being a team on the upswing with massive buzz in the area and no local broadcast.

South Florida played a bitter Big East rival last week, West Virginia, at the CITS and Joe has seen more people at high school playoff games.

The aforementioned examples make it crystal clear: People in the market simply don’t have the expendable income to flock to sports events, except perhaps a high school football game. It has nothing to do with Team Glazer and everything to do with people’s personal finances.

Then throw in the fact of how fractured our area is with sports allegiances (Mark Dominik jokes that his neighbor flies a Steelers flag) due to the region being such a transient area, it’s very, very easy to understand why ticket sales for Bucs games are sluggish.

Look, if one can afford a ticket and has been relatively unharmed by the downturn in the economy, by all means go to the game if you have time. The weather is quite pleasant and the Bucs are playing good ball.

But pay your mortgage and/or rent first. Don’t blow off work and get fired.

As much as we all love the Bucs, there are priorities. Joe wishes others would try to understand, the empty seats are simply about people not having the cash.

Don’t believe Joe; listen to John Boehner and Carville.

Sooner or later, the region’s businesses will rebound. Dominik is determined to build a team that will be a lasting contender. So far, it appears that will be the case.

It won’t be long before an empty red seat at the CITS will be about as common as a Bucs cheerleader knocking on Joe’s door seeking comfort.

33 Responses to ““It’s The Economy Stupid””

  1. Gary Says:

    I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but if we black out a playoff game, the economy isn’t an excuse. Those who have jobs should be going to a playoff game.

  2. Bucnjim Says:

    A playoff game would be sold out in a couple of hours just like the Rays this year and the lightning in the past.

  3. Ash Says:

    Joe said “Tuesday night the Lightning, having a great season with a fun, exciting new offense led by NHL scoring leader Steven Stamkos, only pulled in 16,000 on a Tuesday night where, not only was there nothing else going on, but the game was not televised locally.”

    16,000 is darn good for a Tuesday night at the forum Joe. When the capactiy is 19,758.

  4. Pete Dutcher Says:


    Then throw in the fact of how fractured our area is with sports allegiances (Mark Dominik jokes that his neighbor flies a Steelers flag) due to the region being such a transient area, it’s very, very easy to understand why ticket sales for Bucs games are sluggish.

    I agree with everything but this statement, Joe. Unlike the Rays and the Lightning (which are younger teams)…there was once a waiting list for the Bucs…that means there are enough fans here that want to buy the tickets.

    If anything…fans of other teams have less to spend locally because they rarely have to shell out to see their own teams. But for Tampa fans, we sold out games for what? 10 years? That means that tehre are more than enough with Bucs allegience to sell the tickets.

    So it’s got to be the Economy as you said.

    Of course, the haters blame the Glazers for raising ticket prices so much over the years..and let’s face it, they actually have raised them a bit much. I suspect we will see ticket prices drop some in the off season.

    But the Haters like to point fingers at others because they were irresponsible with their finances and it’s just easier to blame someone else.

    There are plenty of others hurting because of health and finances…genuine reasons…as well. In my case it’s both work and health, but at least I know I have not gone thousands into debt or overpayed for a home. For 2 decades now I have been working mostly with cash only transactions (or a check card technically).

    I would love to attend the games live…man would I ever…but finances and health prohibit me from doing so. Even if I had the money, I don’t think my body could handle the experience of sitting in the stadium…or even getting to my seat, unfortunately.

  5. thomas Says:

    On behalf of the haters:

    I gave up my tickets after 19 straight years b/c I am disgusted with the Glazers and the state of the team. Financially I expect to have my best year ever and I have been fortunate enough to not have been effected by the economy. I know that others have not been so fortunate, but out of my large former buc game group, only a few re-upped and they also made their decision for similar reasons.

    I hated the retention of Rah Rah and “the plan” of rebuilding with youth, eeerrrrrrrrrrrr, rebuilding on a shoestring.

    Yes, the record is better than we expected and we are stoked for that. But most of us arent convinced that the team is “much” better yet, see Pittsburgh and New Orleans – so, until we are convinced that the team is in fact decent and that the ownership is committed to winning – I am going to sit back, analyze objectively and “stir the pot” a little on JBF.com.

  6. Larry Says:

    Not really sure that this is about the economy – the Lion’s sold out last week and have had only one black out this season I believe. You can’t make me believe that TB’s economy is any worse than Detroit’s. I firmly believe that the reports that the Buc’s had the lowest costs while jumping their ticket prices over the years is the #1 reason for the blackouts. Folks are just disgusted with the Glazer family.

  7. notorious_BUC Says:


    I appreciate your honesty. I’m not entirely in agreement with your opinion, but it’s certainly your perrogative to discontinue support if you’re dissatisfied with the product for any reason. Unfortunately, a perfect storm of wretched economic conditions, unresponsive ownership, and generally crappy field performance has doomed this team for the current year. I just hope the skies clear sooner than later.

  8. B.D Says:

    I think the population in Detroit is more than Tampa?which means there is a better ratio of working people that have money to spend

  9. Gary Says:

    Thomas, if the Glazers dont go all out in FA this year I will start to hate on them too. Last year, it was prudent not to do so. This year, they will have no excuses. A young team on the rise and a fan base on the cusp of coming back to the team gives you every reason you need to spend some money.

    We are all watching Glazers, this time show us money isnt an issue rather than saying it.

  10. Kevin Says:

    Great piece Joe, you did your homework and Nailed it!

  11. BamBamBuc Says:

    This year, there may actually be some free agents out there worth going after. Also, having the lowest payroll in the NFL may be a result of actually getting production out of your 2nd through 7th round draft choices. Do you really think Sammie Stroughter is making millions? Roy Miller? Kyle Moore? How about Mike Williams? or Cody Grimm? We’ve got 3 guys making top dollar. Freeman, McCoy and Penn (ok, maybe not “top” dollar for Penn, but more than most of the line). You might add Faine and Winslow to that list as well. That’s 5 guys making top dollar. Ruud, Caddy, Joseph are all on RFA tender offers. Talib, Black, Hayes, Zuttah are all still on rookie contracts.

    Until some of these guys actually get to UNrestricted free agency, the payroll will continue to be low. It might go up a bit if we sign an unrestricted free agent or two, but it’ll still be low based on the number of rookie contracts and the number of later round rookie contracts. As long as it’s low, people will say the Glazers are cheap. All said though, I’d rather have an inexpensive young up-coming with loads of potential than the Dallas Cowboys or Washington Redskins with HUGE payrolls and losing games. Even the Raiders went through the “Sign FA’s” phase and were horrible. Now, they’re improving with young guys, draft choices paving the way. Not that Al Davis is cheap, just that he’s finally getting production from young guys.

  12. Joe Says:

    Thanks Kevin!

  13. PWNASAURUS Says:

    Raheem Morris isn’t going anywhere Thomas so you better go find a new team to root for. The Glazers in fact have done every fan of the team a favor by cleaning house of the people who caused the Bucs to become a futile team with a horrible roster full of aging crusty vets. The Glazers want to get back to winning and that is why they have Dominick and Morris running this team and producing the results they expected the previous regime to have like finding a franchise QB and some game breaking threats at WR. Nobody wanted to watch that crap team that Gruden put out there with 2 yard passes and no run game. This is an exciting time to be a Bucs fan. People need to stop listening to the haters and the negative media and go watch this team themselves. Go Bucs!!!

  14. AtlBucsFan Says:

    Joe – excellent assessment. What bothers me is when the game announcers jump on the fact that the stadiums are not sold out. THAT is extremely rude! They insult the fans with their comments when many are struggling to meet their basic needs. Attending football games is funded from discretionary income. And discretionary income has evaporated.

  15. Joe Says:



    The Tampa Bay area is a different animal than, say, Detroit or Pittsburgh or Chicago or Philadelphia. Sadly, it’s all too easy to apply the same standards at the Rust Belt cities have to this area.

    It’s not apples-to-apples.

  16. oar Says:

    “Nobody wanted to watch that crap team that Gruden put out there with 2 yard passes and no run game.” Yet they were sold out. Hmm?

  17. roe Says:

    If Gruden was still there the stadium would still sell out. It’s funny how people try to bs around the facts. The Tampa Bay area fans are following the national trend. It is a protest against the Glazers for hiring Raheem. The only way that the stadium sells out is if they win virtuallyall their games and are shamed by the national media. Tampa bay fans are shameful.

  18. Neeceebug Says:

    Joe, I agree the economy is a huge factor. I live over in Palm Beach County and see people struggling everyday because they lost their jobs a couple years ago. What I am tired of is all the negative “fans”. If you can afford to go to a game then go, don’t blame the Glazers or coaching just because you don’t agree 100%. That is just an excuse for you to use for not going to the games.

    We have a young team that is exciting to watch, they have respect for the coaches much like the team did when Dungy was coach, and we are winning games. Regardless whether they are ugly or close a W is a W.

    If you can’t afford I completely understand but, fans that want to go to a game, you have options. If you want to go to a game show up at the box office a few hours before kick off (I believe it opens 4hrs prior) and you can find DEEPLY discounted tickets. Get a group together and ride together so the $25 parking price isn’t as bad…and when I go to a game we tailgate so we don’t buy the high priced concession foods.

    I mainly just want the negative “fan” to stop. You are not a fan if you don’t truly support your team. You would have never survived the early years. I would hope you wouldn’t bash your mother like you do “your team” if she did something that you didn’t completely disagree with.

  19. safety Says:

    I’m not protesting a thing.
    I’m in Orlando, and am not making close to what I made five years ago. We don’t have the discretionary income to go to a single game because there are 3 of us (my sons and me). At a hundred bucks a ticket, I’ve just spent the whole fun budget for the month, and that’s before the nachos.
    It’s not like we are drowning in debt, it’s more like we are scraping by and have to find our fun doing less extravagant things.
    God, but I wish we could go to those games.
    I’m not angry with the Glazers, and I am glad for Thomas’s success, but for now, we have to support the team from the couch. It’s all we’ve got.

  20. eric Says:

    Nice slobbering defense of the Glazer boys, yet again.

    A lucky streak in the first half of the season, beating only teams with losing records(and barely doing so), does not make a “lasting contender”.

    Jags and Fins sell out – in the same state – with the same economic conditions.

    The difference? Bucs fans are beat down with Glazer Boy BS.

  21. Patrick Says:

    Here’s a good question. Why can’t the Glazers buy ONE damn game?! They bought up all the home games last year in a meaningless season! So why can’t they do it during a year where we’re actually good and in a playoff hunt? Just think, people are excited about this team right now, and then they can’t have such a basic, simple thing such as watching their team on television. Give the fans a break! Not saying they have to buy all of them, but i don’t think it’ll kill them to buy one or two games.

    Yes, the economy is bad, but back in 2008 the Bucs sold out all their games. The economy was already in crisis mode that year.

  22. Mark S Says:

    Thanks Joe.

    You underscored one of my points – that we are chastised as “bandwagon” or not true fans because we don’t attend. Personally, I can afford to, I choose not to to spend quality time with my family rooting for the Bucs like we have as a unit for many years. Sunday is a big day at the parents)

    Right now the Bucs have very little of their own identity, and they are growing it. We don’t have anchor talent now – and it’s a relatively new team.

    Give us a Manning, a Singletary (the player, not the coach), even a young Favre (he turns my stomach now) – an icon that represents the team – win some games, and people will come.

  23. thomas 2.1 Says:

    Agreed safety! I must admit howwever, after going to games for nearly 20 years, I am getting used to the couch on Sundays.

    I am predictin 35k this week. If they were a legit 5-3, soon to be 6-3, there would be more than 35k there.

    Add in Cowher, immediately blackouts will be lifted – so what is the denominator? Rah Rah = blackouts!

  24. No Koolaid Says:

    All true, but it seems kind of simplistic to blame it on one single factor. Granted it probably is the biggest reason, but there definitely other factors in play also.

    I can tell you that I don’t see nearly as many people wearing Bucs gear as I used to, and I doubt that is a cause of any economic condition. I know I can still wear all of my clothes from two years ago.

  25. Capt.Tim Says:

    Say what you you want, it’s part economy, part racial. It’s obvious by the comments here that the haters won’t support a Black Coach and Black QB on this team. They’d rather watch Grudens pathetic oldies lose, or Cowher waste 2 years starting over with some new QB, than watch this team win. It’s more than apparent.

  26. Capt.Tim Says:

    “Give us a Manning, or a Farve”. ” Gruden or Cowher here = sellouts!”. All you have to do is read the comments and see the problem. They start putting that in the paper, our reputation as hicks will be complete! Maybe The Bucs should go to LA

  27. PWNASAURUS Says:

    Thomas and the rest of these racist fans can bitch and moan all they want. 5-3 soon to be 6-3. Scoreboard Bitches. Scoreboard. Face it. All you haters have nothing left to stand on. Morris coach of the year. Suck on that Thomas.

  28. oar Says:

    “All you have to do is read the comments and see the problem.”
    And have other commenters stop putting their own words to the others comments. Just cause someone says Manning or Farve? How do you get racial out of that? Did you even see his mention of Singletary? He is not white! Get over that racial crap!

  29. Capt.Tim Says:

    “scoreboard bitches, scoreboard! Suck on that, Thomas!” lmfao

  30. Capt.Tim Says:

    Oar, you are a smart guy. I don’t beleive for one second that you would ever think that way, or believe that that other people would think that way. But they do. It’s really sad, but there are a lot of hateful people in the world, looking to blame their failures on others. This is my home town area! I don’t want to believe that people won’t support this exciting young team because of racism. But like lots of ugly things in life, it’s the truth;

  31. oar Says:

    I was hatched and raised here myself, but if racism was true what about when Dungy was here? He soldout! Doesn’t make sense to me. Yes, it does exist and Im sure a handful do, but I’m sure the mass majority of fans have other fair issues with Raheem and not the color of his skin.
    Like I said Mark, who you said was racist cause he mentioned Manning and Farve, brought up Singletary, yet you ignored that and went on a rant about racism?

  32. PWNASAURUS Says:

    The Reason why the racism exists now and not when Dungy was here is simple. When Dungy got here we were perenial losers and there was no expectation and all home games were always blacked out. Morris comes in after Gruden who had been here for 7 seasons and was a favorite of the bandwagoner “white” Fan and who was more loved for his “rockstar status” than his ability to develop a consistent winner and build a roster. Morris is doing a much better job than Gruden in terms of football and the bitter Grudenistas will never support this guy because of their undying love for the rockstar.

  33. oar Says:

    Wow, so fans that liked Gruden are racist, cause of his “rockstar status”?????? You guys crack me up and need to checkout that definition and meaning of what a racist is!