Let’s base investment on the rate of return
Hurray for the county executive for injecting some good common sense into the Bills debate. There is no way any government should be subsidizing any business above the threshold for which there is a reasonable economic return. Imagine what Microsoft or IBM might do with the money spent on a stadium. We would certainly have quite a few-well paying jobs that contribute to the community year-round.
The vast majority of the money received by the Bills does not stay in Buffalo. The size of the economic drain needs to be better quantified. What is a reasonable yearly economic return for the Bills? That will go a long way to establishing how much any government should invest in a football team, regardless of how loyal our fans are.
The primary reason given by the NFL for the need for a new stadium is that the new owner will need it to compete with other franchises. The reason teams cannot compete is these same owners have excluded some local revenues from the cost-sharing agreement, requiring every franchise to add, for example, luxury boxes or suites. Because they have a few owners whom they cannot control, we all have to build new stadiums and sell luxury boxes.
I’ve been a lifelong fan of the Bills and have always applauded Ralph Wilson’s attempts to level the financial playing field. It has been a successful model for everyone. But if corporate sponsors and deep pockets are necessary, the fans are deluding themselves if they think there is any future for the NFL in Buffalo without Toronto and the Ontario peninsula in the mix. People have to expand their thinking outside the boundaries of Erie County.
The NFL wants us to basically invest in the team with no knowledge of the finances. Mark Poloncarz is right. Show us the books. And then scale our investment so it is proportional with the rate of return to the community.