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San Diego Chargers Are NFL's Blackout Grinch

PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- Welcome to San Diego, the one place in the U.S. where National Football League team owners still think that keeping the home team off of local television will get them a new stadium.

After we took the time to congratulate owners on 12 weeks without an NFL blackout and the UT San Diego ran an editorial demanding public support for a new Chargers stadium, the Spanos family that owns the Chargers threw out all that goodwill with the Thanksgiving leftovers by taking the team's Sunday game against the Cincinnati Bengals off the air. The Chargers were 5,300 tickets short of a sellout as of Thanksgiving afternoon, which automatically triggered the NFL blackout rule that demands games be sold out 72 hours before kickoff if they are to be televised.

Don't blame the NFL and its backward blackout rule for this one, however. Blame the Chargers and the Spanos family for engaging in a spite war with their hometown and flat-out refusing to use the tools that would allow them to avoid such blackouts.

The Spanos clan is fully aware that it or one of its team's sponsors can buy up remaining tickets at a third of face value and give them away to charities to keep the game on air. Despite the fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers and other teams have used that loophole this year -- and that ESPN and local sponsors helped buy up 8,500 tickets earlier this season to keep a Monday Night Football matchup between the Chargers and Indianapolis Colts on the air in Southern California -- the Spanos clan has been loathe to embrace that option.

"We're in one of the oldest stadiums in the league, and don't have opportunities that other teams have to increase revenue with things like a bigger naming rights deal or digital signage," executive vice president and CEO Alex Spanos told the North County Times a few years ago before blacking out a preseason home game. "We rely heavily on ticket sales as a primary revenue stream. This market has shown an ability to sell out games over the last 10 years, and we need to take advantage of that."
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