According to Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the measure could result in a vote as soon as June 21, the next date on which owners will meet. Five years ago, the NFL allowed the Jaguars to permanently cover 9,000 seats at Everbank Field, which has a capacity of 76,000.
“We talked about reducing manifests for blackout purposes,” Giants co-owner John Mara told Kaplan.
One question that needs to be resolved is whether the league would allow the seats to be uncovered for games entailing a high ticket demand. The Jaguars cannot sell the set-aside seats for a big game.
Either way, the strategy allows the league to relax the blackout rule without officially relaxing the blackout rule. The mere fact that the league is considering the possibility of allowing teams to reduce its “manifests” (hell, they even came up with a different term so that they would’t have to use the words “unsold seats”) means that the league realizes that significant enhancements in the home-viewing experience will have a long-term impact on ticket sales.
And it could work in owners favor. The players have an antitrust suit against owners, and this could last past the NFL season as the courts will not speed things up just to please the players or owners who are making millions. If players stand pat the owners need a plan B. Plan B would allow games to be played while still having a lockout of players who belong to the NFLPA. Since they are no longer a union, players wouldn't have to follow NFLPA guidelines and could opt out of law suit.
In the mean time the owners will invite free agents to become replacement players. I'm talking about undrafted college player, players no longer in the league because they weren't able to make NFL roster, arena league, or CFL players. Just like they did in 1982. But since there is no union, many free agent now could jump on board so they can continue their careers without interruption. For example Cedric Benson isn't under contract, he doesn't know how long the court case will last and he only has a few years left to be at the top of his game. He could decide to play and cross the so called line in the sand like players did in the 1987 NFL strike.
I believe there is 300 plus free agents in the NFL right now and many are top tier players. Owners could decide together to open up free agency to these players and sign them to long term contracts. Making it possible to build a pretty good team out of replacement players. Any player that has a signed contract now with a team, could decide to not be associated with the NFLPA and players mention in the law suit and decide they want to play for the team they are signed to and the NFL could open it's team to these players and not fear the existing antitrust lawsuit. In the end the league would be a different league without the benefits the players receive now. Saving the owners millions if not billions. As the law suit goes on through the courts, the replacement players (including free agent and those not signing off on the lawsuit) could decide to start another players union and negotiate with the owners for a new CBA while the NFLPA goes down the tube.
The NFLPA may win the law suit years down the road but the players included could lose years of playing time and the new union could give the NFL a partner in building the NFL instead of someone trying to tear it down because they want more than what they receive now. We have seen it many times, unions that use to be good for a company destroys it because they want to much.
Blackouts could be lifted if each team cover 20,000 seats and NFL season could be saved.