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Sherrod Brown Takes On NFL Blackouts

BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- Want to get your senator's attention? Tell him or her their favorite NFL team's next game is blacked out in its home state.

When the Cincinnati Bengals announced earlier this week that Sunday's matchup with their division and cross-state rival Cleveland Browns would be blacked out in Cincinnati and Dayton because the team was going to fail to sell out Cincinnati's Paul Brown stadium 72 hours before kickoff, that didn't sit well with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. The senator's office petitioned the Federal Communications Commission's office on Wednesday and asked the commission to reconsider the NFL's home-game blackout rule.

"With the NFL seemingly unwilling to reconsider its blackout policies, I'm urging the FCC to take a fresh look at the sports blackout rule and allow fans to watch their home team play on television," Brown said in a statement. "The taxpayers who built many of these stadiums should have broadcast access to them."

Although the Bengals are off to a promising 6-4 start this season behind rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, they haven't given fans back home a whole lot to celebrate. The Bengals have already failed to sell out three of their previous four home games, had games pulled off of CBS (CBS) and Fox (NWS) and had a seven-game home-game blackout streak going before selling out a 24-17 loss the the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 13.

Amid 8.7% unemployment in Greater Cincinnati and 9.2% joblessness in Dayton, where the Bengals game will be blacked out, fans have been asked to shell out the same average $72 for a Bengals game ticket and $401 for a family of four to go to the game, park and get soda, hot dogs, beer and souvenirs, according to Team Marketing Report's Fan Cost Index. That's up 1.5% from last season and only adds to the $455 million (or roughly $580 million, adjusted for inflation) Hamilton County taxpayers shelled out to fund construction of Paul Brown Stadium. Hamilton County taxpayers took on not only debt, but a half-percent sales tax that they've been paying since 1996 just to make sure the Bengals had a comfy place to call home.
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