Mar 7, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay announces that Peyton Manning (not pictured) will be released from the team during a press conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
As Josh Wilson already wrote earlier, from a breaking story via FOX 59 news in Indianapolis, the Colts are not going to take up the NFL's offer of easing local blackout rules, reducing the threshold of non-premium seats from 100% to roughly 85%.
That the news of this colossally stupid decision was communicated in this way, with Colts Vice President of Ticket Operations Larry Hall simply telling FOX 59 the news without a press release, is yet another example of the "new era" Colts bumbling and stumbling all over themselves.
To call it bad P.R. is like calling the Hindenburg a mild flame-up.
It's stupid P.R.
It makes Hall look like a clueless buffoon for opening his mouth, and the follow-up tweets from Colts owner Jim Irsay (blowing off Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz's request for a statement) are the kind of moments that make me shake my head and wonder why the hell I should care about this team in the first place.
Are the people in charge just. that. friggin. dumb?
For me, it's either incompetence or greed (or both) motivating Irsay not to take advantage of the easing of the blackout rules. His team isn't very good, and everyone knows it. Should the Colts open the season 0-3 or 0-4, it is absurd for him to expect fans to sell out the stadium late in the year (or risk having the game blacked out locally). Irsay has the cushiest stadium deal in the NFL. Taxpayers paid for it, and taxpayers write the checks for the $20 million dollar maintenance fee every year. To tell people who are already paying for the games, even if they aren't buying tickets, that they cannot watch their team on television (even though a game could be mostly sold out) is pretty much Jim Irsay taking a giant, steaming dump on the heads of his fanbase.
As PFT noted:
What matters is that the league has given teams a way to televise home games locally without selling all non-premium tickets. Teams that failed to deliver the homes games into the local fans’ homes will feel the ensuing wrath.
The "wrath" for Indianapolis could come in the form of apathy. Just as the city tuned out the Indiana Pacers for seven years, they could do the same with the Colts. Maybe Jim Irsay doesn't care about that (and if you follow his Twitter feed, that would be a logical conclusion). Mike Florio referred to Irsay as a modern day Emperor Nero, fiddling on Twitter while his fanbase burns up around him.
Poetic. Eerily accurate too.
Keep in mind, this is the same Mike Florio who Irsay called a racist who hates old people nearly three weeks ago. Florio then used his pulpit at PFT to fit a clown suit on Irsay for those statements.
Yep, in recent months, it's been really hard for the fanbase to take Irsay seriously. Painfully hard.
Kravitz seems to take Irsay's side on the blackout decision, saying it makes sense for the Colts not to take advantage of the easing of the rules. The Star columnist thinks it's too pricey for Colts to kick half the ticket revenue to the visiting team beyond the 85%.
I say that's a crock (or, in this case, maybe a Krog).
I understand Kravitz's rationale, and he's 100% right that the Colts really screwed up the messaging here, but fans aren't going to accept that, nor should they. I know I don't. Regardless of whether they ease the rules or not, the Colts are making money. Again, they paid nothing for their stadium. They pay nothing to maintain it. The naming rights are $122 million over 20 years!
If they aren't making buckets of money, then somebody in the IRS really needs to do an audit on Jim Irsay.
Kravitz then goes on to, once again, call Indianapolis fans "fair-weather" people who "abandoned" the franchise after Peyton Manning was cut. By all means, kindly trash the guy the way many of ya'll trashed me for essentially writing the same thing for three months now. I did my best to clarify it yesterday because, in this case, I think the blackout decision is an affront to Joe Sixpack-type fans, not flaky season ticket holders. The regular, $43,000-a-year-median-household-income fans cannot afford season tickets. As a result of hearing this decision, they are likely wondering if it's worth their time to care about this franchise at all.
Clearly, it cares nothing for them.
Again, Kravitz is correct in saying that the team should have handled the communication of this decision differently, but, really, would that have helped at all? Does bringing fans a sh*tburger on a silver platter make it any less of a sh*tburger?
Maybe this will turn out to be a non-story come October. Maybe the team will surprise people and be good. However, based on this decision, I now don't think the owner has a lot of confidence in them. Today's news is the kind of stuff that makes me wish I had an IV of Jack Daniels at my disposal.
I wish I had some words of encouragement here. Something to offer hope. I don't. I'm sorry, but I don't.