Diving Economy Poses More Problems For Bills’ Future

By PFC Writer Michael S. Moore

In 2008 the average ticket price of an NFL franchise was nearly $70. Buffalo Bills tickets remain the cheapest in the league struggling to keep the team in Buffalo with tickets available for as low as $46. Not because the fan base in Buffalo cannot support a team, but merely because the fans in the city are struggling to make ends meet and the Buffalo Bills, although a way of life for most Buffalo residents, is the last of many concerns. Once a city known for the beautiful sights of Niagara Falls, hard working industrial plants, and a booming economy now finds itself in desperate need of employment and economic stimulus not only to survive, but to keep a 50 year tradition alive. Since 1960, owner Ralph Wilson Jr. embraced the fine fans of this great city, taking losses of his own in hopes to find something positive. With our country falling quickly towards another depression, something has to give. In March of 2007, the league approved an increased revenue sharing program which would help the Bills financially by taking a share of larger market teamsʼ income and distributing the funds to smaller markets. The plan has not yet taken place as Roger Goodell is still working on a formula to determine the teams this will affect.

They have been called the best fans in the NFL, fans that will be there through a 12-4 season as well as a 3-13 season, a sunny 45 degree game or in the blistering cold 6 degrees below zero. The fans of the Buffalo Bills arent much different then any other teams fans, they are regular people, they wake up go to work for five days straight and do it all over next week, but behind the hard working american lies a tradition unlike most. If you have ever been to western New York anytime of the year you will have seen first hand the love and passion Buffalo Bills fans have for the team. Whether its in a Wal-Mart, Mighty Taco, or just a simple walk in the park, you wont have a conversation with anyone in western New York not involving the Bills. Before the teams arrival in 1960 Buffalo was just another city in new york with beautiful scenery and a lot of people. When the team arrived it gave the people of Buffalo something to hold on to, something to say they have. Now 50 years later, the same people who seen the team build from two consecutive AFL championships to four consecutive AFC championships and Superbowl appearences are on the verge of watching that team and a part of their hearts disappear.

In December of 2008 the recession hit the Buffalo-Niagra region hard causing the most job losses in the the city in nearly seven years. The state labor department reported 7,600 jobs were lost between Deccember 2007 and December 2008. Statewide the unemployment rate if 6.8%, in Buffalo alone the last reported unemployment figure was 7.2%. These figures are the highest they have been in Buffalo, NY since 1982 when emerging from the recession. With a meltdown on wall street and many large buisnesses in holes themselves, how is an NFL franchise in his city going to survive and if it does for how long.

Struggling to find something and in effort to expand fan base, marketing, and revenue – Ralph Wilson joined in agreements alongside commissioner Roger Goodell and Rogers Communications (a Toronto based company) to host annual home games in Toronto, Canada. In doing so, the Bills become the first NFL franchise to play annual regular season games outside of the country. Looking like a dagger in Bills fans hearts, the big picture represents the team earning 78 million dollars for 8 games played in the Rogers Centre, nearly 10 million dollars a game, which is double the teams revenue of an entire season in Buffalo. Some see this as a fallout plan for the Billsʼ Ralph Wilson; something to guarantee a football team will still be present.. There isn’t much question of a team after Ralph, just a team in Buffalo after Ralph.