The Buffalo Bills parted company with one of their top administrators Thursday, but the move is not expected to affect the team's drive to sell suites and luxury boxes.
Jim Miller, vice president for administration, left the team in what the Bills termed a resignation. However, sources indicated his departure was forced by the club.
"It didn't turn out to be a very good fit from either of our perspectives," said Miller, who spent just 19 months with the club. "I have no hard feelings. I appreciate the opportunity the Bills gave me."
The Bills' unhappiness with Miller's oversight of the team's marketing operation is believed to be a main reason for his departure. Miller's responsibilities with the team were split between negotiating player contracts and overseeing various aspects of the front office, including marketing.
Miller was the point man for marketing the team in Canada and established a Bills office in downtown Toronto. However, the sales effort in Toronto fell flat. Miller also set up offices in Rochester and downtown Buffalo.
Miller, 50, initially was involved in helping push suites and luxury boxes after being hired in March 1997. However, his role in that area diminished fairly early on.
Bill Munson, vice president of operations, heads the team's luxury box and suite sales, with significant help from the Bills' treasurer, Jeff Littmann.
"Jim hasn't been intimately involved in the sales," said Littmann from his office near Detroit. "I don't see any impact on that effort whatsoever. Beyond that, we don't comment on personnel matters."
"I don't think this will affect the sales effort at all," Miller agreed.
The Bills are closing in on the $8 million mark in their bid to sell at least $11 million worth of luxury boxes and club seats for the 1999 season. That's the figure they need to reach to ensure that the team stays in Buffalo at least through 2003. The team has sold more than three-quarters of the 164 available luxury boxes for 1999. However, fewer than half the 6,878 outdoor club seats have been sold.
The Bills' regionalization efforts have shifted gears in recent months. They are hoping to get the Rochester and Toronto regions each to take one of the new 450-seat enclosed club sections in the end zone and turn it into a regional club.
Miller's handling of contract negotiations is largely an offseason job. At least for now, that role falls back to general manager John Butler. Miller had been hired in part to unburden Butler from negotiating duties and to allow him to focus solely on player personnel.
Miller came to the Bills after spending 11 years with the New Orleans Saints. He was vice president for administration in New Orleans from 1986 to '93 and was executive vice president from '94 to '96.