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Three NFL playoff games this weekend could be blacked out in the host cities

Updated: 2014-01-03T01:38:33Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF and RANDY COVITZ

The Kansas City Star

Empty seats at NFL playoff games? Television blackouts in host cities?

The alarms have sounded.

With the NFL postseason beginning Saturday, three of the four first-round sites, including Indianapolis, haven’t sold out games. The Chiefs and Colts kick off at 3:35 p.m. Saturday.

The Colts have until 3:30 p.m. Friday to sell 3,000 tickets or risk having the game blacked out on TV in the Indianapolis area. The tickets range from $56 to $155.

Green Bay and Cincinnati also have until midafternoon Friday to move tickets.

Dan Rouen, president of Tickets for Less in Overland Park, isn’t surprised.

“It’s a short turnaround, they’re more expensive than regular-season tickets with people watching their money close to Christmas, and more people have 55-inch television sets at home than ever before,” Rouen said.

That last factor could come into play in Green Bay, which plays host to San Francisco on Sunday. The forecast is calling for minus-30-degree wind chills. The team had 7,500 tickets remaining going into Thursday and around 3,000 by later in the afternoon.

The last time a Packers home game didn’t sell out was in January 1983, when Green Bay played the St. Louis Cardinals in a first-round playoff game following a strike-shortened season.

The Colts have sold out 103 straight games, including the playoffs.

In past seasons, teams and local television stations have ensured sellouts by buying and distributing remaining tickets. But NFL rules require that playoff tickets, unlike regular-season tickets, must be sold at full price to ensure games will be aired on local TV.

Rouen said the cheapest Colts ticket on his store’s website late Thursday afternoon was $76. He said he is selling tickets that have a $110 face value for $100.

“We’ve been doing great for the Colts game,” Rouen said. “It’s an opportunity to buy tickets at an affordable price.”

The NFL hasn’t had a postseason game blacked out since Jan. 10, 2002, in Miami, where the Dolphins played the Baltimore Ravens in the opening round.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at BlairKerkhoff. To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to rcovitz@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at randycovitz.

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