FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rep. Brendan F. Boyle
Boyle calls for the end of NFL blackout policy
Legislation would hinder professional teams from receiving taxpayer dollars
HARRISBURG, Sept. 8 – State Rep. Brendan F. Boyle, D-Phila./Montgomery, plans to introduce legislation to prevent public funding from going to any Pennsylvania professional sports franchise that applies a local TV "blackout" to its home games.
Boyle said his legislation aims to prevent sports teams, particularly National Football League teams, from "blacking out" their home games in their local TV market when they fail to sell out the venue.
"The start of NFL season is an exciting time. However, I'm deeply concerned that, according to an ESPN report, as many as 11 NFL cities face the possibility of having their local teams' games blacked out and not shown in their TV market," Boyle said. "It is simply wrong that these franchises take public money when constructing new stadiums, but then institute a 'blackout policy' and prevent fans from watching their games on TV. If these franchises are going to take our public funds, then they have an obligation to show their games to the public, and my legislation will ensure they meet it.
While Boyle's legislation would pertain only to sports teams in Pennsylvania, it is part of a nationwide effort. Similar legislation has now been introduced in approximately a dozen states.
Blackout policies within professional sports leagues are considered financially detrimental to the home franchise as well as the local municipality. The lost revenues to the local economy can have a crippling effect on several businesses including restaurants, vendors and local merchandisers. The financial ramifications impact everyone from service workers to local network affiliates who lose advertising revenue.
Boyle's legislation will provide for a grandfather amendment to protect current subsidies in order not to risk breaking any contracts that would jeopardize a team’s location in Pennsylvania. The bill would only affect future negotiations.
The Philadelphia Eagles ($85 million) and the Pittsburgh Steelers ($75 million) have in recent years received $160 million to subsidize their new stadiums.
"As a life-long Eagles fan, I want nothing but success for my home team both on and off the field," Boyle said. "However, I believe someone should be looking out for the taxpayers when their money is invested in such public-private partnerships."