Before you take my head off hear me out first. I've been part of Buffalo Nation for a long time now and I would hate to see the franchise leave Buffalo. That being said, I also can see the uphill battle ahead.
Let's look at the current situation:
The Ralph was built in 1973 and has a capacity of 73,079, which makes it the 11th largest stadium but also the 7th oldest. The Ralph is an excellent venue but lacks the true luxury boxes that other stadiums have. The lease is up and the stadium needs from 200-400MM investment. I read a survey a few years back that basically was saying that the Bills tickets are amongst the cheapest in the NFL. Ralph has no debts, he bought the team in 1960 for what i believe was around $40K, it's now worth in the area of $950MM and he doesn't own the stadium, which explains the cheap prices.
Now that we've looked at the current situation let's take a peak into the future
1) The team will sell for around $900MM, not many individuals have that kind of cash laying around. So there's a high probability that whoever buys the Bills will need to borrow a fair amount. When Red McComb sold the Vikings for (i believe) $650MM, Zig Wilf I remember reading that he borrowed in the neighborhood of $400MM. My point here is that with a large debt comes large interest costs before making any money. Premium Seating becomes even more important. I would also expect a hefty raise in ticket prices
2) In the past 10 years prices to build new stadiums have sky-rocketed. Most stadiums that have been built in recent years have helped finance themselves by charging PSLs.
So my feeling is that whoever buys the team will have to finance a good deal of the money requiring them to increase ticket prices. Unless the county agrees to pay for the stadium upgrades with tax payer money then once again it will add to the ticket price or worse, it might involve PSLs. And if the new owner decided to build a new stadium in the area, it would almost certainly involve PSLs. I can't see the area supporting higher ticket prices and even less PSLs so where does that leave us? Relocation.
Then you factor in the perfect storm of events:
a) The whole LA stadium thing is really heating up and within the next few years a team will be chosen to relocate to LA. Every potential suitor probably feels the same way.. Not us, no way. But truthfully, the Bills are certainly the most vulnerable because there is such a high probability that they will be sold in the not so distant future.
b) OBD refuse to pay for any of the upgrades to the stadium even though they probably have the money to do so. This forced them to agree to extend by another year. I suspect that the real reason for these delays and extension(s) is because by keeping it year to year at this point keeps the market value of the Bills franchise as high as possible. If they were to sign a long term lease agreement, any future buyer would be stuck with the problem and it would probably be a deterrent to any potential LA buyer.
I do think that the NFL would not want to loose this area but in business money talks and unfortunately, I can't see any local buyer being able to accomplish this without huge price increases and possibly PSLs, which would never fly. The only real hope is probably a Canadian ownership with a stadium in the Niagara region. Still it would mean higher prices and probably PSLs, otherwise my friends, i believe our beloved team will be Hollywood bound!
It's unfortunate but the future does not look that bright from my perspective. I'd like to know how you guys view it? Are you as pessimistic as me? Do you think Bills fans would support the team if ticket prices went up by 50%
So go ahead fellow Rumblers, weigh in with you're thoughts on this subject!