TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A Florida lawmaker wants to end all television blackouts of NFL games played in the state.
Republican State Sen. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey filed a bill (SB 836) Friday requiring Florida's three National Football League teams to televise all home games whether they're sold out or not. The NFL franchises are in Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa, where the Jaguars, Dolphins and Bucs rank 26th, 28th and 31st respectively in attendance among the 32 NFL teams.
Fasano's proposal applies to all professional sports franchises using facilities that receive tax dollars.
The NFL policy, established nearly 40 years ago, applies to stations within a 75-mile radius of where the game is played if all tickets are not sold 72 hours in advance of kickoff
"It's unconscionable that they black out a local game when the owner could easily step up to the plate and either give those tickets away or purchase tickets to make certain they (fans) get to watch their home team on television," Fasano said. "This is a message to the owners, 'You're making tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars each year, it's time to give something back,'"
He's particularly troubled that fans are denied the opportunity to see their favorite teams at a time many can't afford the price of a game ticket.
Fasano's bill would fine teams $125,000 for each game that is blacked out locally. The money, he said, would go to be used for buying tickets to give to military personnel and their dependents, foster children, nonprofit organizations and "those who can't afford to purchase a ticket."
The NFL did not immediately return a request for comment on Fasano's proposal. The Florida Sports Foundation, a quasi-public organization charged with promoting sports across the state, declined comment on it.
Florida's Legislature has approved measures in recent years that provide professional teams with a $60 million tax credit over a 30-year period in efforts to attract or keep franchises in the state.
"All of them get a check for $166,000 each month," Fasano said. "There should not be blackouts when the taxpayers foot the bill."
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