Look at all of those pretty blue seats.

Whaddya know? Another season with disappointment on tap and people are already done caring about going to the games. As we’re all amply aware, if the team doesn’t sell out, the game can’t air live on local TV and, as per usual, this is really incensing folks in the region. Crazy idea here, but if you want to watch the Bills play on Sundays and you live in the area, MAYBE you should go buy a fucking ticket.
I know they’re going to suck. Hell, they might not win more than two games all year long.

You don’t get to write them off as utter bullshit and then bitch that you can’t see them, though. In the close to 60 home games since I became a season ticket holder, they’ve only won 24 of those, never more than four in a year. They haven’t cracked that line in nine years, when they had five home wins in 2004. You’ve gotta go all the way back to ’98 to find a six-win home campaign. What’s changed this year, then? If anything, this team is more palatable than the shitshows of the past 15 years what with the new pieces and all.

This cat was still here the last time they won six meaningful games in a year. AP Photo.


Whenever I discuss this topic, I seem to get the same few retorts from the crowd that chooses to listen:

LEAGUE BLACKOUT POLICIES ARE OUTDATED AND ASININE

Fuckin’ A right.

Per the almighty Wikipedia:

“any broadcaster that has a signal that hits any area within a 75 miles radius of an NFL stadium may only broadcast a game if that game is a road game, or if the game sells out 72 hours or more before the start time for the game. If sold out in less than 72 hours, or is close to being sold out by the deadline, the team can sometimes request a time extension.”

So yeah, they need to sell 73,079 tickets for any given game to be shown on the local affiliates. Last year, the league allowed teams to set a benchmark of between 85-100% capacity necessary to negate a blackout, but the Bills (along with three other teams) declined so they wouldn’t have to put a higher percentage of gate fees in league funds. Understandable.

Blackout policies in every sport are dumb as hell unless you work for one of the networks benefitting from them. There may be a light at the end of the tunnel, though – with the emergence and rising popularity of streaming services, blackout policies are yet again being revisited to allow fans to pay a fee to watch their local games, potentially free of blackout restrictions. It’s in the best interest of the leagues and those providing the services to make this happen, because the current program doesn’t do a goddamn thing but infuriate fans.

IT’S WAY TOO EXPENSIVE, WHO HAS THAT KIND OF MONEY?

This one I can let a lot of people slide on for their first offense. The team has done an absolutely atrocious job over the years of informing people on just how cheap access to their product is. As far as pricing goes, this is the second most accessible team in the league, actually – first if you want to tie in the fact that you won’t have to spend an afternoon watching the Raiders. In all seriousness, if you’re not sitting in a box then going to a Bills game is very affordable, even for Western New Yorkers such as yourselves. This is by design, as it has been said that a new stadium (which wouldn’t work for a multitude of reasons) would flop because nobody could afford the pricey seat licenses or drastically increased tickets themselves.

Let’s not kid ourselves, that joint would sell out FAR less if tickets to the Ralph were actually comparable with those of other NFL stadiums. As of today, you can buy individual seats to Bills games for prices ranging from $50-102 from the team directly. Club seats (which don’t affect the blackout totals, as far as I’m aware) are obviously more costly. On any given Sunday, $102 in Orchard Park can get you this view on the fifty yard line (and closer)!

buffalobills.com

Just looking at the rest of the division – those same seats will run you $211 in Foxboro. The $100 will buy you a view from the third deck corners. In Jersey? We’re talking $420 for that spot. $100 will land you way up in the 300 level’s deep endzone expanses. Miami will give you the most comparable price at around $150 for that same locale, and their $100 equal is still in the lower bowl corners.

That’s just talking prime, up-close-and-personal tickets. For a full season of those at Ralph Wilson stadium, you’re only paying $80 per game. They get much lower, and for a full season ticket package in the Rockpile (just under the scoreboard in the 200 level) or the 300 level corners you’re looking at a cool $25 for each ticket, which comes down to a whopping $225 for the entire 9-game package. What’s more? They offer discounts ALL THE TIME for paying early, showing up, committing before the season’s over, et cetera. Due to those discounts, this year’s spread of three tickets over nine games (stick with me, that’s 27 tickets to watch live, professional football) only ran me around $700 WITH nine parking passes for a lot that is normally $30 per car, per game. For less than $90 each time, I can go to an NFL game and park in a team lot with thousands of other creatures nine weekends a year AND I even get to bring two friends to share in that experience?! Surely, this must be some elaborate ruse!  No, these games are just dirt cheap, so enough of that.


I CAN’T BRING MY KIDS THERE

You should have worn a rubber then.

Of course you can’t. Ralph Wilson Stadium (and certainly the parking lots surrounding) is not a family friendly environment. There’s no two ways around it. Affordable or not, even with my god awful track record and appreciation of the more debaucherous things in life I’d never bring an innocent child into that situation. The Ralph on a Sunday afternoon is a bar at last call on a Saturday morning. Anything goes, no one’s coherent, and your kid will see all sorts of bullshit that you likely don’t want them encountering at such a young age. This is valid. Keep ‘em out until you feel that they can see drunken assholes like myself and not be terrified of them.

Mark Mulville / The Buffalo News

I understand taking a stance against the antiquated, frustrating television policies. Those of you that use that as your excuse need to understand, though, that this is not a market such a tactic will ever matter in. If Bills fans stop coming to the games, all it does is further the discussion of relocating the franchise. If New York fans, Dallas fans, and Pittsburgh fans band together to stop attending in protest we may see some action. It is football, though, and folks eat that shit up, so good luck.

If you want to keep that mindset that you’re sticking it to those bigwigs out there, just buy your tickets through a secondary source. Stubhub sells thousands of tickets for every game that are already paid for whether you like it or not. You’re just supporting the every man who is doing the same thing as you, probably, and you get to watch the game in an environment where the wifi is so bad that nobody has to hear you bitch about it.


Grab those credit cards, head on over to the Bills site or Stubhub and be above the blackouts. Leave your kid at home and come slam a beer with me. I promise you, even though Buffalo twitter is one of the most curmudgeonly collections of people in this world, it’s actually a good time.