I found myself writing a long winded comment this morning and decided that maybe I should actually publish it as a fanpost and add a survey to get some feedback.
We all know that the Bills struggle because their market is so small. The concept of regionalization was introduced in 2000 when the Bills moved their training camp to St-John Fisher near Rochester, NY. The plan was to regionalize the product and build up the fanbase in the Rochester area. The move was very successfull and 11 years later they are still there.
In 2008, OBD further extended the idea of regionalization north of the border into the metropolis of Toronto. The Rogers group who were very hungry for bringing in an NFL product into Canada were willing to sell the farm to get it! Wilson got $78M for 5 regular season games and 3 pre-season games. The problem with this was that the Bills were not in control at all here. Rogers had clearly overpaid and was extremely greedy in their approach to selling this series to potential buyers. The goal might have started off being to popularize the Bills in Toronto but it ended up just being a great Cash cow for Ralph Wilson. In the end, Rogers basically allienated potential new fans by gauging them at the door. I was on the list to get season tickets right off the bat and the prices that were quoted to me for seats in the lower bowl between the 20s ranged from $450ea to $550ea. And to add insult to injury, Rogers had two options available: Buy all 8 games up front to guarantee your seats or buy 3 games without any guarantee. YES that's right folks, Rogers was expecting regular fans to dish out $1000 for two seats per game and buy all tickets for the 5y series in advance. Gee, I wonder why the plan failed miserably??
Anyways, I've been giving this a lot of thought over the past few years and I have a strategy that I believe could be very successfull building up a fanbase and corporate support in Eastern Canada. I explain it after the jump...
I live in Montreal and 10-15 years ago this town was mostly Giant/Jet/Steeler/Cowbows fans but nothing really fanatical. During our heyday we saw some Bills fans pop out of the woodwork as well. You couldn’t be caught dead wearing a Patriots jersey. Today, probably 50% of the jerseys we see are Patriots so Winning isn’t everything… It’s the only thing!
Obviously our beloved Bills need to improve the product on the field but that alone would never be enough to win over fans. I really believe in the Regionalization program although I completely disagree with the approach they took with the Rogers series, selling our home games to Toronto is not the best way to accomplish the ultimate goal which is to increase the fanbase and increase demand in the Buffalo Bills product. It was a quick cash grab and failed miserably beyond that point.
If Brandon was really serious about wanting to increase the demand he would create local Buffalo Bills offices in both Toronto & Montreal. The offices would promote the Bills through various events. Create a "BUZZ" in local hot spots, bringing in former players for guest appearances, cheerleaders, etc. Promoting the fact that the Ralph is in our back yard as well as promoting the game day atmosphere. They could easily create tour trip, organize bus loads with accommodations, etc. The population of Toronto is around 2.5M and in Montreal about 1.7M, that’s 4.2M people folks!! Buffalo’s population hovers around 360,000 and Rochester is 210,000.
It is inconceivable to me that they don’t put any effort whatsoever into the Toronto & Montreal markets. Very little investment would reap enormous returns – i guarantee it!! There is an enormous appetite for NFL football in both Montreal & Toronto. I myself, have been a season ticket holder for about 5 years and I am now up to 8 seats, two of my friends each own 4 seats so that’s 16 seats owned by people in Montreal. When we go down, we buy a boatload of extra seats and our group on game day is always between 16-30 people. We aren’t promoting it, it’s just the product that sells itself. Guys who try it once, become regulars every year. Imagine, this is with absolute garbage on the field!! Imagine what would happen with a winning team. Russ, if you are reading this – I implore you to consider this idea because 4.2M people is a heck of a lot and these two cities have a lot of businesses that could easily buy up some luxury box seating if the demand was there. Rationalization is like rebuilding a team, it’s a slow process through the draft, rationalization must be done through the grass roots first. Once people are asking for the product, I guarantee you that corporations will be willing to shell out the $$ to send clients to luxury seats.
I can tell you that there is a huge appetite for NFL football in Canada and most people aren't really attached to any franchise in particular mainly because they are so far away. Buffalo is definitely the closest NFL franchise to Toronto and is about as close to Montreal as Boston is. Both cities are ripe for the picking!
Do you like my Regionalization plan and more importantly, do you think it would be effective?
Yes (35 votes)
No (11 votes)
46 total votes