Cardinals, Bengals avoid blackout; Raiders receive extension to sell out

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Fire up the backyard grill and flip on the TV, Bengals and Cardinals fans. You can see your team's game at your own home this Sunday.

Raiders faithful, however, may have to get to the Oakland Coliseum to watch the silver and black on Monday night.

Cincinnati and Arizona announced Friday that their season openers sold out in time to avoid a local blackout, while the Raiders received a 24-hour extension from the NFL.

Teams normally need to sell out games 72 hours before kickoff to prevent a blackout. The Bengals and Cardinals received an extension Thursday because of the Labor Day holiday.

The Bengals distributed more than 1,000 tickets to local military members and charities, and the local CBS affiliate and Kroger supermarket also bought tickets to ensure the sellout against Denver. The last time Cincinnati failed to sell out a game was November 2003.

"We are happy to go the extra mile and allow all fans in our home region to watch on Sunday," Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said.

The defending NFC champion Cardinals had about 1,700 tickets available Thursday but managed to sell them. The Cardinals have now sold out all 35 games played at University of Phoenix Stadium, which opened in 2006. But last January, the team needed two extensions from the league to sell out its first home playoff game in Arizona.

Because of the weak economy, the NFL is anticipating more local blackouts this season as teams have trouble selling tickets. Only nine out of 256 regular-season games were blacked out all of last season and more than 95 percent of games have been televised locally every year since 2005.

More than 20 percent of games were blacked out each year from 1973 to 1999. It was in 1973 that the NFL started to allowed local broadcasts of sold-out games.

The last time a season opener was blacked out locally came in 2004, when the New Orleans Saints hosted Seattle.

The Raiders have been one of a few teams in the NFL that don't regularly sell out all home games. There have been two blackouts a year for each of the past three seasons in Oakland. That's a marked improvement from before the Raiders took over the ticket-selling operation from the county.

In their first 11 seasons back from Los Angeles, the Raiders sold out only 25 of 88 regular-season games in time to avoid a blackout.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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