Many including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (Yes, I know he is a walking circus but like it or not the man has A LOT of pull in the owners’ meetings), have said that a new stadium is pretty much a must to ensure the long-term viability of keeping the team in (or near) Buffalo. The first question is, where will this stadium go? I have no idea what the potential plans are as everyday there seems to be a new site in consideration for the team to remain in the region and they all have differing reasons as to why they would fit. Downtown seems to be the big favorite as it would help further the waterfront development already underway. Although this is a great idea in theory I am not a fan of packing 65,000-70,000 fans downtown with the available traffic routes to help fans get to and from games. The traffic leaving a Sabres game can be ridiculous and that’s only 19,000 fans, triple to quadruple that and see how much fun that will be. Batavia is being mentioned as a possible place for a new stadium due to the large parcels of land available there and let’s face it, it would be a move the Bills would be making to make the drive easier and quicker for our friends to the east (Rochester fans). I am not against this idea but I think besides providing significant real estate for a new stadium and other amenities it doesn’t really offer anything else to the majority of Bills fans. Batavia is in Genesee County, and they do have lower property and sales taxes than Niagara or Erie counties but they also do not have anywhere near the revenue generation that those counties have that would be needed to help support the team and the building of the infrastructure around a new stadium. Not to mention the drive is another 40 minutes for our friends from the north coming from Toronto. Cheaper available real estate and lower taxes do not constitute a reason to move a team and a possible Billion dollar building somewhere. Niagara Falls is also being considered as a potential landing spot for a new stadium. While the allure of having a stadium right next door to one of the world’s seven natural wonders and it would undoubtedly give the NY side of the falls some much needed appeal and revenue generation (Let’s face it everyone, the Canadian side of the falls makes our falls view development look like how our faces looked when Norwood first put his foot on the ball and then what it looked like after we saw it was wide right). Although this would make out neighbors to the north happy as it would save them around 45 minutes of driving, traffic and real estate are real issues here. Where in Niagara Falls could a stadium and enough parking go? How does the traffic caused by these games get in and out of NF? Many of our Canadian friends would surely come across the Rainbow Bridge rather than the Peace Bridge, but have you saw the Rainbow Bridge try and handle significant traffic? It gets back up for an hour with 10 cars how is it going to do with several thousand?
OK, enough bashing of the potential sites for a new stadium and let’s get to the point here; there is no question at this point, for the Bills to stay in Buffalo (area) a new stadium is a must! Right now as Bills fans we are fortunate to have the 3rd lowest ticket prices (Average $57) in the entire league and the 2nd lowest fan experience cost ($365) per game. With the league average around $81 per ticket and $459 per game for a total fan experience we are getting off easy right now (Compared to other fans around the country, I am not saying this is cheap for anyone by any means, I usually only attend one game a year as that is all my family and I can afford). Here are the issues, without a new home being part of the purchase plan there is a significantly good chance that the league and the owners will push their weight around and deny the sale of the team to anyone not including that in their purchasing proposal. Additionally, we will see a SIGNIFCANT increase in the cost to attend game of the team we love. The average ticket price will easily reach if not surpass the league average with a new stadium and the average cost for fan experience will easily follow in the same steps. The NFL wants theatres now, not stadiums! They want a place for people to go where they can have WI-FI and TV’s in front of every toilet in order to draw in as much corporate and large private revenue as the can possibly suck. They do not care about us and how much we can afford, especially if they are going to invest into the new building. No, they are going to want to raise ticket prices so the team is contributing more to the leagues overall revenues, they will want a smaller stadium (Compared to the Ralph) so they can charge premium rates and segregate a higher percentage of the seats to corporate and suite seating. Don’t believe me? Look at some of the most recently constructed new stadiums in the league. Heinz field seats 65,000 that is a significant increase from Three Rivers Stadium, however it is loaded with premium seating, suites, and corporate boxes. Lucas Oil Stadium seats 67,000 which is also an increase from their prior home in the RCA dome but again a ton of corporate dollars are being poured into that building (Seriously, just look at the name of these stadiums). And more importantly and probably more relatable to Buffalo is the new Vikings stadium. You know the league had a hand in the building of that stadium when they have already granted the Vikings the Super Bowl in 2018 when the stadium isn’t even complete yet. The new stadium by the way will seat, yep you guessed it, 65,000. Are you seeing the trend? Besides gigantic markets like Dallas and NJ (haha take the Giants and Jets), most of the stadiums are being built around the same size and many of them are being constructed with one thing in mind, can it host a Super Bowl? As much as I love our outdoor games especially in winter when the Dolphins come north, do not be surprised if the league wants a dome, or even a retractable roof building if they are going to help invest in building the Bills a new stadium if the Bills are to stay in Buffalo. Toronto already has a stadium that can do these things, and that is an advantage we don’t want to overlook nor do we want them having. Besides their market is O 5X’s the size we are and loaded with international corporate money. The bottom line is the league wants new places to put the Super Bowl besides, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, and Miami. Just look at the recent trends of new stadiums getting to host the Super Bowl, Dallas, NJ (NYC), and now Minnesota. In order for the Bills to stay here a new stadium will not only be required, but we as tax payers will have to pick up a portion if not a significant portion of the tab on that, see drastic price raises in tickets, and a stadium that can handle a Super Bowl even in late January or early February. As much as I don’t like it and don’t want it this is how it has to be. All of this is being said without mentioning the league’s new favorite fade way to rip money from fans wallets, seat licensing fees (which can be THOUSANDS per seat for season ticket holder rights which by the way do not include the price of your ticket).
If the Bills leave Buffalo by either the potential suitors being out bid by a Toronto group or a new owner is not willing to build/fund building a new stadium and we end up losing our team to our neighbors to the north we are left to do one thing; in the famous words of South Park’s Sheila Broflovski “Blame Canada”!