|We've been had! Did Bills hire Sergeant Bilko to negotiate? Judging by the deal, one would think so.
Most Buffalo Bills’ fans were delighted to hear that the Buffalo Bills would remain at Ralph Wilson Stadium for at least the next seven years but, when comparing the terms of the lease to others it is clear this is one of the worst deals in the NFL, if not the worst.
At least when it comes to soaking the taxpayer.
The first issue on a list of issues that makes this deal a bad one is the short term of 10 years, with a reasonable buyout after seven years. Ralph Wilson Jr. is 94 years old and his heirs have stated that after he passes they will have no interest in owning the Bills. A reasonable man would infer that at the end of seven years the team will be sold and most likely moved to a city that has a larger population and will be able to charge higher ticket prices than the Bills, who have the NFL’s lowest average ticket price of $59.
The average lease in the NFL of teams that received taxpayer support for their stadiums is 28 years, and all but five teams have anything less than a 30-year lease.
The Buffalo Bills have, by far, the shortest lease in the NFL.
On top of that, the Buffalo Bills are the only team that does not play all their home games at one stadium, playing one of eight home games in Toronto each year. When you figure the cost to taxpayers per game, regardless of the ridiculously short period of the lease, taxpayers pay among the very highest in the league at $1.37 million dollar per game. The NFL league average cost for government subsidies is $910,000 per game, which makes the Bills’ taxpayer cost per game 46 percent higher than average.
The previous lease signed by the Buffalo Bills was a 15-year deal which cost taxpayers $527,000 per game and was 40 percent lower than the league average. When the rising costs of inflation are considered, the increase might be arguably justified. If that were true, then why did the NFL’s closest geographical team (the Cleveland Browns) sign a 17-year lease that cost taxpayers $750,000 per game down from their previous lease by more than $100,000 a game. Who is bamboozling who?
Most NFL stadium leases combine public government subsidies with private money to pay for itself. The Bills contributed $35 million dollars and the state/county combined contribution was the remaining $95 million for a total of $130 million dollars.
Ralph Wilson Jr’s share was approximately 27 percent of the total which is considerably lower than the league average of private money invested in a NFL stadium lease of 38 percent.
In consideration of the shortness of the lease, the cost to taxpayers per game, the small amount of private up front capital and the likely scenario that the albatross located on Abbott Road called Ralph Wilson Jr. Stadium will likely be nearly useless in seven years, it is the opinion of this reporter that the newly signed lease agreement stinks!