NFL

Bills face closing season with 3 TV blackouts

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP)

The Buffalo Bills' push to sell out their remaining home games has fallen tens of thousands of tickets short, leaving the distinct possibility of all three contests being blacked out on local television.

''It was a daunting challenge going into it,'' Bills CEO Russ Brandon said on Wednesday. ''We're disappointed that we're having this conversation, and disappointed that we're staring at three potential blackouts.''

Brandon said there are more than 12,000 tickets available for the team's game against Tennessee on Sunday, making it very likely it will not be sold out.

The prospect for sellouts doesn't look any brighter for the Bills' final two home games. There are more than 14,000 tickets still available for their game against Miami on Dec. 18. And there's about 24,000 left for the home finale against Denver on Christmas Eve.

''The next two games are also going to be a significant challenge,'' Brandon said. ''We have a lot of inventory to move in a short amount of time.''

The Bills attempted to spur sales by offering a 12.5 percent discount to fans buying tickets for all three games. The promotion made a small dent, considering there were 57,000 seats available four weeks ago.

Under NFL rules, teams have up until 72 hours before game time to sell out their stadium to have the blackout lifted. There's a provision to extend the deadline by a day if there are a limited number of seats still available.

That's not likely to happen in Buffalo, where the Bills have traditionally had difficulty sellout out Ralph Wilson Stadium for games beyond Thanksgiving once the weather turns cold.

Of the 14 nonsellouts the Bills had from 2000-2010, 10 of those games came after Thanksgiving. And it's made no difference whether the Bills have been a winner or loser. During the franchise's heydays in the 1990s, Brandon said the team failed to sell out about 55 percent of its games in December.

The Bills had previously lobbied the NFL to schedule more home games earlier in the season to help boost ticket sales.

It doesn't help that interest has begun to wane in a team that's spiraled out of playoff contention. Buffalo (5-6) has lost four straight and been undone by an alarming rash of injuries.

The Bills had sold out their previous five home games this season.

The poor economy hasn't helped, and all NFL teams had a slow start in selling tickets after the lockout wiped out most of the offseason. The Bills season-ticket base dropped to 37,555 - down from 44,000 last year.

Tagged: Bills

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