Quick notes: Vegas MLS vote postponed, Raiders cost could be higher, Bills’ stadium and “need”

I’m on the road (well, the train) today, so no news updates, but fortunately it looks like a slow news day so far. The big items:

Finally, I have my debut article going up today at The Cauldron, on the Buffalo Bills‘ demands for a new stadium right after getting $200 million in state subsidies for renovations to their old one, and the psychology of “need.” The direct URL wasn’t available as I left the house, but head to the main page and you should find it. Enjoy! Or maybe “enjoy” isn’t the right word

7 comments on “Quick notes: Vegas MLS vote postponed, Raiders cost could be higher, Bills’ stadium and “need”

  1. Mr. Demaus: As a season ticket holder for the Bills I fully agree with many of your points as per the stadium situation in Buffalo but your reference to “middling attendance” is that the capacity of the current stadium is 73,967 so at full capacity is it still “middling”? Your reference to market size fails to take into account that a good proportion of season ticket holders drive from Rochester NY and Toronto Ont. Myself I drive 3 and 1/2 hours from near Ithaca NY to attend games. Agreed that a new stadium would be waste of taxpayer resources and money-there is nothing inherently wrong with the “Ralph”.

  2. “Middling” wasn’t meant as a criticism — the Bills are typically around 20th in the league in attendance, so that seemed a fair way to describe it. Or maybe “middle-of-the-pack”?

    And sure, the Bills draw from beyond the Buffalo area, but then to make a fair comparison we need to take into account Patriots fans who drive from Connecticut, and Seahawks fans who drive from Vancouver, etc. The point is, it’s one of the smaller NFL markets — but in a league where a team in Green Bay manages just fine, that isn’t really a problem.

  3. Unless the piece has been edited since it was first posted, it did say “middle of the pack”.

    I see Buffalo as having a bigger issue than their perceived need for a new stadium: Namely, that I don’t believe a new stadium in a city like Buffalo (with all due respect) is necessarily going make the team significantly more profitable.

    In the end, the franchises in any sport that make more money out of new stadia do so because they have untapped fan “spending potential” – that is, they can fleece the punters even more than they do if they build (or have built for them) a shiny new pad.

    I’m not sold that that is the case in Buffalo (where the Bills take in pretty solid game day revenues in the aging facility), just as I’m not sold it is the case in several other markets in the three major pro sports (and a couple of the second tier ones). How much more would Buffalonians be willing or able to spend on the Bills?

    As you referenced in the article, Neil, the funding model used by the 49ers would be a non-starter in many other locations. Similarly, the Raiders demand (in 1994) for more seats at the coliseum has revealed once and for all that they do not need a bigger stadium and in fact could not fill one. They might still want a nicer one, but it remains to be seen whether fans would actually pay more to watch the Raiders in a new facility in Oakland than they do now, or whether the Raiders would just have more (and more expensive) empty seats to tarp off.

  4. Hey, so it does say “middle of the pack.” And links to the Bills’ 19th-place ranking in attendance last year. Apparently I anticipated this question more than I remembered.

    Direct URL is here, btw:


  5. ‘What the Bills situation really comes down to, then, is less a need than a “want” — as in, “We want a new stadium because it will make us more money, but only if we don’t have to pay for it, because unless you’re the 49ers and can get your fans to shell out tens of thousands in Silicon Valley paychecks just for the right to buy seats, funding your own stadium is a non-starter.” ‘
    I disagree that the Bills new owners, or any other NFL owner cannot 100% fund a new stadium. If I have an asset worth about twice as much as the cost of the new stadium, I can afford to finance the new stadium – simple as that.

  6. Hence the reason sports stadium subsidies are so ridiculous… If owners had to determine what to build with their own money, only those additions that could earn more than their cost to build would be included. This is as it should be (and yes, it also holds true for art galleries and public buildings in general). Teams would still build new facilities, but they would be cheaper and more functional. And if you want the comfy extra wide barcaloungers with all weather coverings, you’ll have to pay their real cost.

    When you add vast quantities of public money to any building project, you run the risk of ending up with enhancements that have no relationship to their actual worth (IE: how much fans would pay in a free market system for these additions).

    If items on the options list of a new vehicle were free to buyers and came with a guarantee that all repairs to all options added would be paid for by someone else in perpetuity, who would opt for the most efficient engine or roll up windows?

    Part of providing choice for consumers involves having them know the price of their choices and deciding for themselves whether or not to pay that price. When these choices are skewed by public subsidy (or enforced participation), they cease to be market decisions.

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