The Buffalo Bills owners have sold the naming rights to Ralph Wilson Stadium for an undisclosed sum to New Era Cap Company, and immediately took down the lettering with the old name:
— Buffalo FAMbase (@TheBillsMafia) August 15, 2016
This made many Bills fans unhappy that the stadium will no longer be named for the team’s founding owner:
@BuffaloBillsPR I hope they still recognize tradition. How about New Era Field at Ralph Wilson Stadium?
— Steve Ayers (@drsvayers) August 13, 2016
We’ve seen this before in other cities, of course. What’s odd here is that Ralph Wilson Stadium isn’t the building’s original name: From 1973 to 1997 it was Rich Stadium, named for a local food company in one of the first naming-rights deals in pro sports. When that deal expired and Rich Products wouldn’t agree to an increased rights fee, Erie County instead named it after the Bills’ owner.
Wilson died in 2014, and somewhere along the way, so did the county’s ownership of the naming rights, as it appears new owners Terry and Kim Pegula will be pocketing whatever cash comes from this deal, even though Erie County still owns the building. It seems like that’d be more worth getting upset over, but there’s no accounting for football fans.