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NFL Blackouts Put Heat on Florida

The Minnesota Vikings, meanwhile, are filling the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome against the Bucs on Sunday, but had to cut the price of their upper-deck tickets in half to do so. The half-price sale is only in place for Sunday's game and a Sept. 25 matchup with the Lions, but the discount hasn't prevented upper-deck seats from appearing on eBay's (EBAY - Get Report) StubHub for as little as $4. This is what happens when your team is in the last year of its stadium lease, there's not a new stadium plan in place and a buyer's group from Los Angeles keeps mentioning your team as a potential target.

If any team and its fan base know how to fake a smile, however, it's the Buffalo Bills. The team blacked out three home games last season and would have taken another off Western New York's televisions if a local business owner hadn't bought up the remaining tickets to the 2010 home finale.

This year, the Bills have sold out their first two home games and opened the season with at 41-7 drubbing of the Chiefs. While those are rare reasons for Bills fans to rejoice after 11 straight years without a playoff berth, they also mask a season ticket base that's shrunk nearly 15% since last season and almost 33% since 2009. That's the year after the Bills started playing one "home" game a year in Toronto -- the only game on the NFL schedule not subject to NFL blackout restrictions. With the true home slate down to seven games and the fans getting no promises from the Bills other than that the team will be in Buffalo for as long as 91-year-old owner Ralph Wilson is alive, it's enough to make an upstate snowbird want to head to Boca for football season.

The home team just might not be on TV once they get there.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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