Last month, New York State lawmakers finally came to an agreement on an $850 million subsidy for a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. In addition to the cost to the taxpayers of New York State, ticket prices are about to go way up. The team recently sent a message to “survey” the fan base about potential seating options and prices for the new stadium, expected to open in 2026. It might be wise for Bills fans to brush up on the concept of a PSL.
The Buffalo Bills Survey “Hints” at Future Ticket Prices
Last weekend, the team sent out a survey, shared to LWOSNFL by a recipient of the survey, to get a feeling for various pricing packages and seating options at their new stadium. The team has assured the season ticket holders that “the prices shown are for research purposes only.”
In an additional cringeworthy moment for Bills fans, this survey was done by Legends Global Partnerships. A little search revealed that this company is a sports management firm founded by Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones and New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in 2008. Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula hired Legends Global a year ago to handle project management and other details for the new stadium.
To handle the cost of the new stadium, which will be discussed later, the Pegulas plan to use something called the G4 program. This program lends money to its franchises, against a matching commitment from the team’s owner, to be paid back mostly through the visiting teams’ portion of ticket sales.
The Pegulas also plan to raise revenue through the use of a PSL. In case you are not aware, a PSL stands for personal seat license and is a paid license that entitles the holder to the right to buy season tickets for a certain seat in a stadium. This holder can sell the seat license to someone else if they no longer wish to purchase season tickets or even pass it down to a family member upon their death. While PSLs have been around since the 1990s, it is a very new concept for sports fans of places away from New York City.
Here is a sampling of some of the “surveyed” options that season-ticket holders may have in the future.
The least expensive package comes in at around $3000. The cost is for one ticket in the upper level between the 15-yard line and the end zone, is $990 a ticket, and $2100 for the seat license. The survey also mentions that these seats will have almost “minimal” roof coverage and that the seats will not be heated, although most are not sure why most Bills fans would want heated seats.
For you big spenders out there, suite-level boxes that can accommodate 4 to 16 fans, range from around $60,000 to almost $350,000. However, the boxes are heated and come will all-inclusive food and beverage options. The good news is that you would not have to purchase a PSL to snag one of these beauties.
The most expensive “non-premium” seating option comes in the lower level end zone and will cost someone $1,190 per seat along with a $1,750 PSL. These also do not come with heated seats or a roof covering.
The Buffalo Bills Stadium Cost Shifted to Taxpayers
It is probably understandable why those in and around New York City would complain about a taxpayer-funded stadium for Western New York. Many of those people are still upset that their “New York” teams are playing across the river in New Jersey. However, the cost of this stadium will also be paid for by the good people of Buffalo and Erie County.
Economists, such as Victor Matheson, a Professor of Economics and Accounting at the College of the Holy Cross, do not believe that this is a good deal for the taxpayers. He states that stadium subsidies, in general, are terrible public policy, pointing to the fact that the Los Angeles Rams/Chargers’ new home, SoFi Stadium, was entirely privately financed.
Matheson’s research has also discovered that stadiums and franchises have little or no impact on local economies. Even in a smaller market like Buffalo, that is also true. He points out that the Bills current home, Highmark Stadium, is a huge facility that is rarely used: The Bills play eight home games each year in the regular season with hopefully a few post-season games sprinkled in. Being around for roughly fifty years, Highmark Stadium has hosted a grand total of 30 major concerts, three college football games, and two large hockey games, in addition to some high school football games and other smaller events.
One of the biggest complaints about the stadium deal is how well the Pegulas are making out on the subsidy. Matheson points out that with a net worth of $5.8 billion, Terry Pegula ranks as the ninth richest owner in the NFL. The generous revenue-sharing structure of the NFL means that even playing in one of the league’s smallest markets, the Bills have earned over $300 million in operating income since the Pegulas purchased the team for $1.4 billion just seven years ago. And since then, the value of the Bills has risen by another $900 million. The Pegulas have earned enough on their investment in just seven years to pay for the entirety of a new stadium on their own.
The issue that stadium deals are whether to pay for them or allow your team to be moved elsewhere, which the Pegulas had hinted at doing. The NFL always has cities ready to take teams, and will often dangle deals for those teams, and they do not discourage owners from using that fact in negotiations. Cities like San Diego, Austin, St. Louis, San Antonio, and even London are often talked about as future NFL destinations. Take away Buffalo, and now one of the largest states in the country will not be hosting any NFL teams. Besides, how many other items that have been taxpayer-funded are actually used by a large amount of the population?
Nevertheless, the deal is done. With ticket prices expected to rise in the future as well as the price of chicken wings, the experience of attending a Buffalo Bills football is going to cost people quite a bit more very quickly.
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