(INDIANAPOLIS) - Colts owner Jim Irsay is defending the team's decision to allow home games that don't attract sellout crowds to be blacked out.
This year, the NFL is allowing teams to lift the local TV blackout where only 85 percent of the game tickets are sold, but teams that agree to that rule also must give up 50 percent of the money from every ticket sold to the NFL's "visiting team pool," which is split among every team.
Teams that have sold-out stadiums, or don't want to take advantage of the new policy, only contribute 34 percent to the pool.
In a letter to season ticket holders, Irsay said he doesn't believe artificially lowering the capacity of Lucas Oil Stadium in order to broadcast games on TV would be a wise move.
"Our players and coaches need a full stadium. A capacity crowd is a significant competitive factor (home field advantage), as well as a big contributor to a strong game day experience for our fans," Irsay wrote. "Artificially lowering our capacity does not promote a full stadium."
Irsay also cited the Colts' obligation to its ticket holders and the need for the team to sell its product for adhering to the blackout.
"A ticket remains the one guaranteed way to see a Colts home game," he said.
Irsay said he expects the nearly 2,000 remaining season tickets to be sold quickly.
There are a few NFL teams that are expected to take advantage of the new rule to allow local, live, TV coverage of their games at the risk of paying extra to the league's pool. Clubs must notify the NFL of their intentions by Sunday.
The Colts will open training camp July 29 at Anderson University. The team's first preseason game is Aug. 12 against the St. Louis Rams.
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