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A new Bills stadium doesn't make economic sense

Question: Last summer my family and I drove to Buffalo on personal business. In the process we traveled through Cincinnati. I noticed several modern stadiums along the river there. What is the issue with funding and constructing a new retractable roof facility in Buffalo? The lakefront would be a perfect location. The city could attract college bowl games, the Final Four and if you make it large enough the Super Bowl. If they can select Detroit, why not Buffalo? -- Rudy Kobus

Answer: One of the big things the Bills franchise has going for it is it does not have any debt service. Even with aid from the league and perhaps the state, much of the cost of a new stadium would be paid for by the Bills. The annual debt service would become a big operating expense the Bills don't need. More important, it's hard to see where a new stadium would significantly increase revenue. The Bills' dugout suites already are as close or closer to the field as any suites in the league. The sightlines are better than most boxes in the league, maybe the best. Even with a new stadium, the team would not be able to charge much more than it's already charging for them.

Ralph Wilson addressed this in October.

"We can build a $600 million stadium across the street and it wouldn't make any difference because Western New York, and you all know it, is a poor area," he said. "We have no pricing power. So we wouldn't have any more pricing power in a new stadium than we do in the stadium that we have here now. And it's a very good stadium."

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Q: Where do the Bills rank in terms of number of penalties they've committed? -- Steven Crandall, Syracuse

A: They've made 74 for 543 yards. That's tied for the 10th-fewest penalties and the sixth-fewest penalty yards.

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Q: Why didn't the league let the defensive captain have an earpiece in his helmet to get the call from the sidelines between plays? -- Al Sciandra, Boston

A: It seems like a good idea but there were too many details that needed to be ironed out when the league was considering the proposal at the owners meetings last March. On offense it's just the quarterback who needs the earpiece to get the play call. On defense it's not the same player on every team. If that player gets hurt, the backup signal-caller could be at a different position. They wanted to streamline the proposal so it doesn't get too complicated.

"We only had time to put one player in the system prior to the start of the [2006] season," said Titans coach Jeff Fisher, co-chairman of the NFL's competition committee. "The way it was designed this year, we just wanted to get it in. We said if you have a malfunction or an injury, all bets are off. We just weren't prepared to create systems for backups or alternatives. There's a lot more work that needs to be done [to get it passed], but we're headed in the right direction."

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Q: How much do you think J.P. Losman looks to Lee Evans versus Peerless Price? -- Daniel Vastola, Atlanta

A: Obviously I can't say how often the quarterback looks at a receiver, decides he's covered and then looks elsewhere. In terms of how many passes actually have been thrown that were intended for Evans and Price, my unofficial numbers are: Evans, 115 passes thrown his way; Price, 64 passes thrown his way.

Bills beat reporter Mark Gaughan answers your football questions every Thursday. Send your e-mails to mgaughan@buffnews.com or mail to Question Mark, The Buffalo News Sports Department, One News Plaza, Buffalo, NY 14240.

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