Under new legislation introduced by a San Diego lawmaker, NFL teams in California would no longer be allowed to receive public subsidies if the NFL refuses to give up on its television blackout policy, according to a published report.
“Since they’ve made it clear they aren’t willing to do that, we’ll have to consider pulling the plug on public subsidies,” Democratic Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The blackout policy, in effect since 1973, states that a game needs to be sold out within 72 hours of kickoff or a 75-mile radius blackout will go into effect.
Thanks to several winning seasons, San Diego Charger fans haven't had any blackouts in recent years. However, the team did have a tough time filling the seats at Qualcomm Stadium a few times last year. Back in 2004, fans were unable to tune in to watch a regular season game when Drew Brees led the Chargers 43-17 over the New Orleans Saints in 2004.
The proposed bill comes on the heels of legislation that allows for the development of a new football stadium in the City of Industry near Los Angeles, despite strict environmental laws in that area. Moreover, negotiations between the city of San Diego and the Chargers may depend on the public’s willingness to help foot the bill for a new venue, which could add up to as much as a quarter of the $800 million required for a stadium's construction. Saldaña opposes that measure, but some suggest that for the city to not do so would push the Bolts up north.
Saldaña told the paper that blackouts hurt sport bars and restaurants that count on drawing large game-day crowds. The proposal will be amended into existing legislation in the coming weeks, the Union-Tribune reported.