Packers announce playoff sell-out, avoid blackout vs. 49ers

Jonathan Daniel

The Packers announced they were able to reach sell-out status, and avoid a blackout for Sunday's playoff game against the 49ers. We take a look at how they did it, and the ridiculousness of NFL blackout rules. SB Nation 2014 NFL Playoff Coverage

The Green Bay Packers announced on Friday morning that the team has completed a sell-out of Sunday's playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. The team had 40,000 tickets available for sale Monday morning, but with the help of Packers fans, corporate sponsors, local TV stations AND 49ers fans, the game is being announced as a sell out. I say announced because I just went to Ticketmaster, and there were still some single seats available.

The Packers received a 24-hour extension yesterday afternoon, which often means someone is prepared to step up to get the deal done. In this case, sponsors Associated Bank, Mills Fleet Farm and Bellin Health, and FOX TV affiliates WITI (Milwaukee), WLUK (Green Bay) and WFXS (Wausau) all pitched in to make sure this game was a sell-out.

I don't blame the Packers fans for the struggle to sell out the game. It was a tough environment when playoff tickets first went on sale, and the Packers and NFL did not make it any easier for them. As I understand it, playoff tickets first went on sale shortly after Green Bay was whipped 40-10 by the Detroit Lions. Aaron Rodgers was out and his return was in question. The Packers apparently instituted a new policy in which if fans purchased playoff tickets and the team didn't make it, the money would automatically be rolled over to 2014 tickets, and not refunded. Most of these people likely would be paying for their season tickets down the road anyway, but it's nice to at least have a choice.

Instead, the team had to get help from sponsors and TV stations to get a sell-out done. I was kind of hoping they would come up short, not because it would punish local Packers fans, but because it might give the NFL the kind of kick in the butt it needed to change their ridiculous blackout policy. The FCC is reportedly changing the blackout policy for professional sports, but leagues would have the right to create their own blackout policy. This could result in Congress threatening the league's antitrust exemption, but who knows how long that whole process will take.

For now, the NFL continues to have a ridiculous policy because they can't figure out how to innovate in ways that will encourage fans to come to the stadium. I blame this on the NFL more than any one fan base. Hopefully this spurs some kind of change in policy.

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