New things are fun. New restaurants and bars in Buffalo are greeted with thunderous applause. We just love to throw ourselves into new foods and places to hang out. Hell, I've never seen so many stories about food trucks or Dinosaur BBQ opening in Buffalo in the last year. Hey, I'm with you guys. Whenever something new pops up in my neighborhood, I get a food/booze boner because of it.
So, I get that whenever the idea of something new and radiant is pulled out, folks tend to fall in love with it right away. In Buffalo I've always felt that when the region has been down for so long, part of the crowd takes pride in the fact that you can't keep them down and become defiant. WE CAN DREAM BIG! WE CAN BE LIKE THE BIG BOYS.
While I commend the attitude that no one can call you smalltime, sometimes you are what you are…and that's a small market football team that is not close to being ready for a new stadium.
I don't mean to piss in anyone's Kool-Aid in regards to NYS assembling some sort of small king council of Westeros to look at building a new stadium. I'm cool as a cucumber with them looking into whether the Bills need a new stadium at some point. However, I think the "If the Bills don't get a new stadium, they will be outta here when Ralph dies!" narrative is misguided.
Now, before I get started, this will probably be the last piece I write about this stadium situation. I'm not stupid. I've been through this song and dance before about the future of the Bills. Bon Jovi is linked to the Bills..everyone/myself panics and writes about it. Some Wall Street guy is connected…go crazy. The asshole who owned the Montreal Canadians and drank beers with Chad Kelly in a parking lot may buy the Bills…Ask Pinto Kenny if he can confirm this! Jim Kelly is going to buy the Bills?..Oh, that's so 2007.
I can't do it with the stadium.
I know that whenever something as minute as a committee or a shovel is brought out in public, it will be just an overreaction and a reaction to the reaction. So, I'm just going to explain the rules of begging for a new stadium and how it doesn't add it up. Afterwards…I'm done!
1) Need more companies- I've said this more times than the Bills needing a franchise QB, but here goes again: In order to open a new football stadium, you need a large amount of corporations and fortune 500 companies that can afford to buy luxury boxes. Luxury boxes are what makes teams want to build new stadiums. They want corporate money. They want the CEO to entertain their clients at the Jim Kelly luxury box. You will always hear PSLs and luxury boxes attached to any new stadium. Why? Because that's the main way a stadium -which today's price costs anywhere between 600 million to 1.3 billion dollars to build- can get you out of debt and there's going to be a shit ton of it.
While Buffalo is on the rebound in some ways, they are not close to having these types of business to pay out 6 figures for a luxury box for one year. It may happen, but it won't be this decade.
The other new stadium examples- Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I am NOT a fan of Ralph Wilson Stadium. I like the tailgating experience and the football, when it is good, but other than those two things, the place is a fucken dump. I've been to every stadium/arena in the NYC region (All are new or renovated within the last 5 years except Nassau) and the amenities (Food courts/Hall of fame restaurants/Draw Bridges) fucken destroys the shitty food and beer they have at RWS.
However, this all goes back to luxury boxes and how a new home means higher prices.
To give you an example of the price difference of luxury boxes and a newer stadium, consider that the luxury box the Bills gave to NYS as a part of the lease agreement costs between 10,000 to 20,000 a season and it sits 12 people. A suite at Heinze Field, which I think if you want to believe in this new stadium dream is probably your best bet to bank in, runs anywhere between 60,000 to 120K. I know Pittsburgh is in better shape than Buffalo economically, but holy crap, I don't think of Pittsburgh and Buffalo being as cost efficiently different than say LA and Albany.
Why is the price that way? There's more businesses in Pittsburgh and they have to charge that amount based on recouping debt from the cost of Heinze Field. Now, don't even consider how Minnesota and SF's new stadiums cost between 1 to 1.4 billion dollars. As Mark Poloncarnz said on WGR , Buffalo can't have a stadium like that because the way those franchise's are recouping the debt they are about to incur is based on PSL and Luxury boxes and Buffalo can't afford that. This has been repeated about 400 times in stories by Tim Graham and Mark Gaughan. Like, seriously…Google it.
Now what about individual tickets? Right now the Bills are near the bottom in ticket prices in the league. Hell, I've know Bills fans who were on unemployment for a year and were able to get season tickets by using the 400 bucks the government gave to them per week to buy seats in the Rockpile. You can totally kiss that goodbye with a new stadium. Oh, and there just so happens to be that sellout problem the Bills seem to be going through over the last two years. I mean, for crap sakes, they didn't even sellout the 2nd game against Carolina until like 3 days before the deadline. So, lets up the cost to where the Steelers are (15th in the league) and see how that goes over like a fart in church.
Yes, I will totally acknowledge if the team improves, tickets will sellout pretty quickly, but you bet your ass the cliental will also change. I've been to enough games to know that there's a lot of kids in that 22-28 year old demographic that goes for the most part. Pretty sure everyone knows that's your cheapest bracket when it comes to income. So, you'd be eliminating that and trying to get in a more white collar establishment, which I don't exactly think is the Bills fan base.
Oh, and God help us if people have to pay personal seating licenses. You want to pay at least $1,000 for the right to buy tickets? Here..Check out the PSLs for Baltimore and Pittsburgh which will never be confused with NYC/Dallas and come back to me…You back? You still want to pay a PSL? And while we are at it, maybe the Bills can raise ticket prices in concessions and in order to make you buy their shitty food or booze, they will cut down your tailgating time which a numbers of fans only go to these games because of this. Again, we will out price the market
Never refusing money, but will in this case- I think we can all agree that we don't exactly have high regards for Ralph Wilson and Russ Brandon. For years, Ralph has always made fans feel they are lucky as shit to have a football team in this town while Russ has just been a constant revolving door of BS. They will never be confused with Robin Hood and will take anything they can get for free. Public handout, stealing from homeless people and hoarding out games to Toronto. They have no shame..yet, they have never, ever asked for a new stadium. Why? Why wouldn't they ask for one when they could raise prices and the majority of the funds used to build a new stadium would come from tax payers? It goes back to what I just said and that's recouping the debt, having companies buy boxes, and fans buying PSLs.
Ralph and Russ have said repeatedly that the reason for the Toronto deal was so they could lure Toronto companies to come down to Buffalo and buy luxury boxes because they had knocked on every single corporation's door in the region to buy these seats. They may be dicks, but these folks know the value of a buck. That's why they haven't asked for a stadium and anytime someone brings it up, or hires a group to look into it, or make silly ass 1.8 Billion dollar plans, Russ pretty much comes out and goes thanks, but we are flipping this house. Wanna know why there's a committee? Politics. Whenever a government official comes out to talk about building anything whether it is business or stadium, it raises morale amongst voters.
That's why last year Schumer came to Buffalo to talk about some weird ass as rule he wanted to change in regards to a new stadium. What was the point of it? You couldn't call the commish or send out a statement. No..You had to do it in Buffalo and waste tax payers money to fly you in so you can do your little political song and dance.
I mean, what other reason don't they want a stadium? Does Ralph have dead bodies under the stadium that he can't move and would be discovered if they demolished it?
Final word: What is so wrong with remodeling Ralph Wilson Stadium? They did it in KC an GB and it seemed to have gone well. GB should be what fans and the team should thrive for. It is a small market, yet they have perfected the regionalism effort. That's why I climb to the top of the mountains to yell that WE DON'T NEED A NEW STADIUM! On top of this, we haven't even gotten our 2nd face lift of the stadium and yet, people are shitting all over it. Wait until we see the team store and new entrance before we bury the stadium.
I think the fixation with getting a new stadium is all in our heads. Every time I have a discussion about this and try to explain how it economically can't work the counterpoint just goes back to how RWS is a dump.
There's also these idealistic dreams that a new stadium will turn the region around and save the Bills. It is the same stuff I heard when Pilot Field, Casinos and The Cross Roads arena opened and here we are..still kind of small potatoes. People want to hold onto these get rich quick schemes in order to turn around the region and it isn't that easy.
Some view it through the prism of sitting on the waterfront and seeing fireworks from a stadium blast into the sky and over the lake. At that moment you can puff out your chest and say "We are big time", but sadly, it comes back to who is paying for those fireworks. Corporate NFL doesn't care how regular fans feel who just want the region to turn around, but rather how much money CEOs are going to drop on boxes.
It just isn't as simple as "If you build it, they will come". They are still coming, but the problem is getting the right people with deep pockets to come.
Maybe in 10 years the region can build something like this if the economics get better, but in the meantime, deal with the cards you've been dealt and stop being irrational about the team moving if a new stadium isn't built.