CINCINNATI - The Bengals are in their no-huddle offense, hurrying to sell tickets and avoid a playoff blackout.
After getting a 24-hour reprieve from the NFL, the Bengals have until 4 p.m. Friday to sell out Paul Brown Stadium for Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. game against the San Diego Chargers and ensure that the game will be shown on local TV.
The Bengals cited "strong ticket sales" Thursday and support from businesses but didn't say how many thousands of tickets are left.
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Restaurateur Jeff Ruby gave ticket sales a boost by buying a block of 100 and challenging local businesses to do the same. Ruby said he would donate the tickets to AFTA Cincinnati (Armed Forces Ticket Association) so military families can attend the game.
The Bengals also cited support from Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati Insurance Company, Cintas, United Dairy Farmers, Liberty Mutual/Safeco and WCPO/Scripps.
Businesses that wish to purchase blocks of tickets should contact Jeff Berding, director of sales and public affairs, at (513) 621-8383.
The remaining tickets are priced at $86 and $96 – more than for regular-season games.
See how fans can buy Bengals playoff tickets below.
A blackout would mean the Bengals-Chargers game would not be shown on local CBS stations in the Cincinnati, Dayton or Lexington markets. That also goes for the online stream from CBS.
Fans have pointed to the higher price of playoff tickets as the primary reason for not buying.
See the comments on WCPO’s Facebook page and add yours.
Still, Cincinnati has the cheapest tickets for any NFL playoff games this weekend, according to Forbes.
The NFL - not the Bengals - gets all the revenue from playoff tickets and sets the prices, Forbes said.
The Bengals aren't the only team facing a playoff blackout this weekend - the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers haven't sold out, either, and needed an extension. The NFL usually imposes a blackout if tickets are not sold out 72 hours before kickoff
All teams want to avoid the national media embarrassment of a playoff blackout. The last NFL playoff blackout happened in 2002 when the Miami Dolphins hosted the Baltimore Ravens.
The Bengals said they had 10,000 tickets available on Monday and 7,200 left as of Thursday morning.
The Bengals have been using players to try to sell tickets. Domata Peko, Michael Johnson, Andrew Whitworth and Marvin Jones appear in a TV and radio ad exhorting fans to give the team a strong home-field advantage in The Jungle on Sunday.
Some players say a non-sellout would be a disappointment for a team that has won all eight home games this year and is hoping to go deep into the playoffs.
They’re surprised fans aren’t more excited about the reasonable possibility of a run at the Super Bowl after losing wild-card games on the road the past two years.
Besides that, there’s the chance to get the franchise's playoff losing streak off their backs. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season – the longest current drought in the NFL and the seventh longest in NFL history.
Asked about the possibility of a blackout, quarterback Andy Dalton told reporters Wednesday:
“To play at home, to have the crowd noise and have all the fans, is big. We need to sell out this game. We need the fans here,” he said.
“The game should be sold out.”
Tickets can be purchased:
➢ Through Ticketmaster online or by phone at 800-745-3000;
➢ Through the Bengals Ticket Hotline at 513-621-8383, or toll-free at 866-621-8383 (TDTD).
➢ In person at the Paul Brown Stadium ticket office.
The Hotline and the ticket office reopen at 9 a.m. Friday.
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