Slowly, but as surely as people having takes on politics during election season, my facebook and Twitter page lit up when the Bills lease agreement hit the airwaves. I'd be stupid to not say any of this matters. It is a nice step to keep the franchise here long term, but being the dickhead cynic/skeptic that I am, there's always room for red flags.
— There's no denying the 400-million dollar penalty is huge for us. It is crazy that when stuff was getting leaked during this whole process, none of that was being mentioned. This has probably been what taxpayers -who don't give two shits about the team- have been looking for since day one. No one wants to renovate this stadium and then have the team just decide to leave. We have been paying for the Bills for years with tax payers' money and should at least try getting a return on our investment if they no longer stay here.
—A lot of people have asked, "Why only 7 years for the penalty?", I think a lot of it has to do with attracting as many buyers as possible for when the team goes up for sale. This is my hunch, but I don't really think Ralph cares what happens to the team after he dies. In his mind, he did everything in his power to keep the Bills in Buffalo when he could have moved them to Miami or Houston or whatever place wanted them. We owe him more than he owes us in his mind. Of course, we totally think it is the other way around. If Ralph really wanted to maintain the team staying here forever, he'd do the lease penalty for a lot longer than 7-years or sell a portion of the team while being alive. By doing only 7-years for the penalty, it will still attract LA buyers to get into a bidding war with local groups. I'm already having visions of what happened with the Seattle Supersonics. In short, a new owner bought the team there, said he wanted to keep the team in Seattle and get a new stadium, but within a year or two, he said "F-this" and just moved the team to OKC. A lot of people in the NBA circle felt this was all a part of the plan between the new owner and David Stern.
— Great, I guess all of Buffalo will vote for Cuomo now because of this. Nothing like a 10-year lease to get voters to elect you to office in 2013. Seriously, I love the Bills, but if you are going to vote in someone into public office because of this, you are delusional. I just loved when someone in the media had the audacity to ask if Ralph Wilson had a succession plan and Larry Quinn…err..Russ Brandon scolded the guy and anointed Ralph Wilson as Jamie Lannister for killing the Madking and saving Westeros, which resulted in a circle jerk round of applause from the suits in the room. Again, what happens after Ralph dies is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WITH THEIR FUTURE. You think if Ralph was 65, he'd allow that penalty to be in the lease agreement? I think not. It would all but eliminate his leverage to ask for more money, but since he's 94, what the hell does he care at this point? He won't be paying it. The future owner would.
—The state gets a suite? Bite me.
—Speaking of Cuomo? Who in 7 hells needs to fucken take a plane from Albany to Buffalo? You dipshits. Yes, he couldn't take a plane there because of weather conditions or maybe they didn't have the right Bloody Mary mix for his drinks on the flight, but it is still only like a 4-5 hour drive. Get the hell in your limo or Ford Explorer and drive down the 90. Plus, I'm sure you could break the speeding laws to get here fast since your motorcade is being lead by the leader of the state. God, I hate rich people and politicians.
—Spare me the new stadium talk. Unless Buffalo recoups its population losses from the last 30 years, it would not economically work. Again, the debt that the Bills and the state would incur for paying for a 600-800 million dollars for a new palace would take forever to recoup and I dont think we have the resources to buy that. You wanna pay PSLs? You wanna pay 90 bucks for the cheapest seats in the house? The Bills have to pound on corporations' doors to get them to buy cheaper luxury boxes at the Ralph. The region cannot afford this in the current economic climate. I think they just mentioned this in order to get people excited about the future and also to forget that during the last 3-years of the lease, the Bills could easily buy out of it.
—I had a pretty nice debate with The Yachtsman of Dear God, why Us? Sports via text and twitter about the Bills moving to LA. He made a ton of great points about the issues California and a new LA owner are facing: From the California economic issues, to how moving the team from Buffalo while paying the relocation fee and the penalty to NYS would just be too much, to the issues of building of a new stadium. He made a lot of great points and I hope he can get away from his X-box, rabie infected dog, the disappointment of being ugly, and the hipster happenings in overrated Brooklyn to actually blog about it at some point on his site.
—Remember, the Bills are worth about 800-million bucks and have hardly any debt. A team in LA would be worth anywhere from 1.4 to 2 billion dollars. It is location, location, location and market. That to me is what scares me about someone trying to steal the Bills while still paying the 400-million dollar penalty. Factor in that LA (See: Hollywood and people who show up to the SB) will pay the high prices for tickets that the NFL wants and you can recoup the debt faster than if the team gets sold here. LA isn't NYC when it comes to sporting events. NYC has new stadiums/venues everywhere, while LA has pretty much only has the Lakers and the Dodgers. The NFL is still the ultimate sporting brand and the league wants a team in LA to exploit that.
Final word: I'm sorry to not be as excited as a lot of other folks are. I had a spirited debate with a friend of mine a few months back when that weirdo retired umpire tried going to the city to present a new stadium plan without the backing of anyone. After our debate, the friend of mine was so pissed that he went to the Bills Mafia site -where they had an article about the new stadium- to say that all transplants are dicks (Yes, I'm paraphrasing) because he wasn't happy with me pissing on his dream. In other words, people want to not let any sort of relocation talk enter their bubble.
The lease is a nice step, but it still leaves a crack in the door for the team to move. Until that crack is sealed shut, I will always be worried. The crack won't be sealed until someone buys the team and guarantees that the team isn't going anywhere. And, no, I'm not counting Jim Kelly's magical group talk or Roger Goodell being the bastard child of the first family of Jamestown. The NFL wants a team in LA for all the reasons I listed. I still don't think the NFL likes our market all that much..unless we get a boatload of Toronto corporate money coming down to us in the form of luxury boxes, which hasn't happened.
I also think the 10-year lease is more about seeing if Buffalo can still support an NFL team by today's/tomorrow's NFL standards. You always here Goodell say the right thing about how he loves the Bills in Buffalo… with the catch being as long as they are economically viable. The Bills haven't exactly been viable these days in the selling the product.
They still have the cheapest ticket in the NFL, yet, they are always having issues selling out games in November and December. Plus, the Toronto games haven't exactly resembled the demand of Maple Leaf Games. Season tickets went from 56,000 in 2009 to 43,000 this year. That's not good.
If that trend continues in 5-years, that will become your loophole for the NFL to not exactly stand in the way of the team moving. Plus, the team will still go up to public auction when Ralph dies, which means anyone can bid on it. There are more rich investors in Cali than there are here.
Again, short term, it is fine to be happy. Long term, I still have my doubts. The champagne will still be on ice until new ownership takes over and pretty much declares that Lindy ain't going nowhere. I mean, the Bills. However, be happy. The Bills will probably stay here until at least 2020. After that…we will see.