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Buffalo Bills

The Cost of Professional Sports

If you live in New York, this should infuriate you

You might have missed this in the pre-holiday news dump, which it was specifically timed for—it’s a good idea to downplay the implications of a story like this. An agreement was announced in a “hastily called news conference” to keep the Bills in Buffalo (actually Orchard Park) through at least 2020. But the real story is in the details: the Bills have been allowed to pick up just 16 percent of the costs to keep them in town. If you’ve ever had the slightest curiosity as to how sweetheart a deal an NFL team can possibly get, the full agreement can be read below.

It’s going to cost $271 million for upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium and 10 years of running the place on gameday. The Bills will pay just $44 million of that. Erie County will cover $103 million, while the state of New York is on the hook for $123 million. If that turns out to be not cushy enough, the Bills can buy their way out of the lease after year seven. We and others have railed against the outrage of public financing for stadiums for years, but it’s still shocking to see in 2012 a textbook case of a community held for ransom, forced to give in to every last demand of a franchise threatening to move.

The Weekend In Sports

First the positives:

The negatives

  • Sure it is good to see the Houston Texans get an offense but boy do the Pittsburgh Steelers look old.  It’s early and you don’t want to count the Steelers out but I can’t help but wonder if there won’t be a drastically different looking Steelers roster for next season.
  • Let’s not talk about what happened in Green Bay.  Denver is not a very talented team yet.  Shanahan’s last couple of drafts were horrible and the only decent player that McDaniel’s brought in was Eric Decker.  It’s going to be a while until they are back on top.
  • What can you say about the Saskatchewan Roughriders other than they are not a very good team.  Grandpa coming back gave them a spark but I have been saying since last season that just because Ken Miller was a good assistant coach, it doesn’t make him a good personnel man.  That and I have been terrified of Brendan Taman running the team ever since they brought him in.  Look at what he did to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and how long it took them to recover.
  • Dear Buffalo Bills.  You lost to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Really?  Rookie QB, lame duck coach, apathetic fans and you still lost to them.  You should be ashamed.

Buffalo deserves better

Buffalo BillsI am not a Buffalo Bills fan for quite a few reasons.  They were great when my Denver Broncos were only good, Jim Kelly always used to find a way to beat them and just when I started to cheer for them, Thurman Thomas lost his helmet.  Yet they have amazing fans.  Fans so loyal that they put fans in many other NFL markets to shame. 

This is why I think they really deserve better than what Ralph Wilson is about to do to them.  Wilson is 92 years old and can do whatever he wants to do with his team but he has no succession plan.  Wilson wants the team to be auctioned off when he dies which means that the team will probably be auctioned off and sold as it is worth far more in Los Angeles than it is in the Buffalo market.  For Buffalo, that really sucks.

What bugs me so much about this is that Buffalo supports their team.  It’s not a very good team and has been poorly run for over a decade but they show up in the cold, buy tickets, merchandise and beer while cheering for a team that will probably be taken from them in the next couple of years.

Now Wilson doesn’t have to do this.  He could have arranged for minority investors to buy the team in bits, ensuring they are loyal to keeping the team in Buffalo (there are some that have offered).  He could have had his money well before he died and set the owner up on a great honeymoon period.  Sadly it doesn’t look like he plans to do either and the team will be moved.  Buffalo fans deserve better.