Raiders blackout busted by Black Hole

The Raiders announced Saturday that Monday night’s exhibition game against the Dallas Cowboys had sold out, lifting a NFL blackout that would have kept the game off of local televisions.

Thousands of Bay Area fans can now watch the anticipated return of former Raiders coach Jon “Chucky” Gruden, as he broadcasts the 6 p.m. 5 p.m. game opposite Mike Tirico for ESPN (and retransmitted locally on KPIX-TV Channel 5).

Going forward, if the Raiders have a home game blacked out on local television, the team should be really, really concerned.

That’s because they don’t have to sell all 63,132 seats at the O.co Coliseum 72 hours before each home game anymore. Under a revised NFL blackout rule, the Raiders will only have to sell 85 percent of tickets — roughly 54,000 — to avoid a local blackout.

Considering the Raiders sold out all of their home games in 2011, Raiders fans that can’t hit up the Coliseum in person should have no trouble watching the Silver and Black on TV.

Especially now that the NFL is finally relaxing its archaic blackout rule, instituted in 1973 to increase home attendance. Before 1973, all home games were blacked out in the home market, so nobody’s home games were televised locally at all. Period.

After pressure from Government officials, including President Richard Nixon, Congress passed Public Law 93-107 which would allow games to be televised if the game was sold out.

Before the rule change in 1973, even playoff games and Super Bowls were blacked out in the host city. Yes, the Super Bowl.

Could you imagine if the 49ers’ playoff victories over New Orleans and New York were blacked out in the Bay Area last season? There would have been mass rioting in San Francisco.

The new rule for the 2012 NFL season allows teams to sell just 85 percent of tickets available to lift the local blackout. But not every team will take advantage of the rule.

Only the teams that struggle to sell out will take advantage of it. And with most good deals, there is a catch. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy revealed the details to NFL.com:

“If a team chooses to do so, it may set its capacity number needed for a blackout to be lifted at 85 percent of overall capacity. More revenue than usual will be shared with the visiting clubs for tickets sold above that base number.”

The Raiders shouldn’t have to worry about blackouts anymore. Neither the team nor local television station should have to buy thousands of tickets just to allow the game to be shown locally. If the Raiders can’t sell 53,662 tickets once a week, eight times a year, they should move somewhere they can.