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Bills to raise season ticket prices, reduce cost for some seats

The average cost of a season ticket for the Buffalo Bills is going up.

In an email sent to season-ticket holders, the team announced that the average price for a season ticket for the 2019 season is rising by $1.85 per seat per game, from $87.71 to $89.56.  That's an increase of 2.11 percent, and comes after an average increase of 3 percent for the 2018 season. Season tickets for 2019 range in price from $35 to $402 per game.

Just how much more a season-ticket holder will pay depends on the location of the seat. According to the team, 1 percent of the seats in New Era Field will see an increase of 10 percent or more. A total of 65 percent of seats saw an increase of between $1 and $3 per game. As an example, the cheapest ticket went from $33 to $35 per game, an increase of 6 percent.

Furthermore, a season-ticket holder in the first row of section 330 emailed The Buffalo News that the cost of two seats rose from $1,380 in 2018 to $1,830 — a whopping increase of 32.6 percent. According to a team spokesman, 300 seats saw that 33-percent increase. Other increases were not so severe: In section 239, for example, one fan told The News their ticket went from $670 to $730, an increase of 8.9 percent. Another fan in section 111 saw their pair of tickets go from $2,164 to $2,344 — an increase of 8.3 percent. A fan in section 109 told The News their ticket increased from $902 to $936 for the year, a bump of 3.7 percent.

Some other fans will actually see a price decrease. A total of 7,700 seats at New Era Field will see price reductions ranging from $8 to $22 per seat per game, according to the team.

In 2018, season tickets ranged from $330 to $1,080 for seats in the 100 through 300 levels of the stadium. This year, they range from $350 to $1,170. The cheapest of those tickets are found in the upper deck closest to the end zones and the most expensive between the 30-yard lines in the 100 level.

Despite the increase, Bills tickets remain some of the cheapest in the NFL. Based on the 2018 NFL Fan Cost Index published last October by the independent Team Marketing Report, the Bills’ average regular-season ticket price is the second-lowest in the NFL, behind only the Cleveland Browns.

“With these figures in mind, Bills season tickets continue to be one of the best values in the NFL,” Chris Colleary, the team’s vice president of ticket sales and service, wrote in his email to season-ticket holders.

“I haven't seen what other NFL teams are doing for this year, but based on the previous few years, even with this increase, we'll likely be the second-lowest average season-ticket price in the league,” Colleary said in a phone interview with The News. “The 2 percent, it's less than $2 per seat per game. Our average season-ticket price is significantly less than the majority of NFL teams. We have kind of a volume-based business a little bit in that we have a lot of seats here. Our capacity for our market size is real large, so we have to be cognizant of that with our pricing.”

The Bills will continue to offer interest-free, extended payment plan options, according to the letter. For fans who elect to pay for their 2019 season tickets with either a four- or 10-month payment plan, there will be a change starting in the 2020 season. After this year, their seats will automatically renew, unless they inform the team during a 30-day opt-out window that they wish to cancel their tickets.

“Easy Renew will eliminate the possibility that any of our valued ticket holders can inadvertently lose their tickets due to an oversight in making their payment on time,” Brent Rossi, Pegula Sports & Entertainment’s executive vice president of marketing and brand strategy, said in a press release.

The Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits will also be implementing the automatic-renewal program for fans who use payment plans for their 2019-20 season tickets, meaning those seats would be enrolled for the 2020-21 season.

Season-ticket holders for the Bills, Sabres or Bandits who pay their entire season-ticket cost up front will not be part of the automatic-renewal program.

The Bills are coming off a 6-10 season, but Colleary laid out the reasons for optimism in his letter.

“There is much to be excited for in 2019 and beyond — the organization has star-caliber talent at key positions, a top-10 draft pick, and we recently commissioned a study to measure new stadium and/or renovation options,” he wrote. “There are exciting new heights in this team’s future, and we can’t wait to have you with us to experience them.”

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