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Bills Need Home Field/Hometown Advantage

by on December 7, 2009

Well, that was a fantastic atmosphere for the second Buffalo Bills home game not played at home. The matchup in the erstwhile SkyDome was as lively as a surgery being performed in a morgue.  Perhaps curious Canadians remain puzzled about the mysterious fourth down or why there wasn’t a team named the Roughriders playing; that bewilderment may have kept them silent.  The best Buffalo’s defense got was polite applause and mild cheering on third down, which unfortunately wasn’t enough to drown out Matt Millen.  Who signed up for this?

Taking an outing from Western New York and giving it to a city that wants to steal the team is the worst of both worlds.  The deal to relinquish sovereignty to Ontario for one-eighth of the home schedule is wholly worthless for all parties if it results in lousy games that leave targeted fans listless. It’s the equivalent of signing a talented horse’s ass who plays largely crummy football after the gamble. They’re on outburst alert for a player who isn’t even producing; as with the team’s failing dual citizenship experiment, there should be at least some upside.

Home field advantage has been one of the few encouraging aspects regarding the Bills over the past decade.  Local fans cheer on a team that often doesn’t deserve it. Simultaneously, the same loyal backers constantly fret about what the future holds for this oft-infuriating squad. It’s important to realize that improving Erie County’s economy will keep the Bills as a tenant in their home and native land.  No, not that one.

For one, subsidizing any private business is ultimately a mistake, no matter how much certain residents have wrapped their psyche around a home team’s success.  There’s an unconscionable amount of money leaving fans’ pockets thanks to the rabid interest in watching NFL games either live or on television paired with an insatiable desire for merchandise.

Partisans wear jerseys after renting seats for the afternoon at exorbitant prices or endure hideous commercials featuring, for example, boneheaded former players and smart-mouthed babies; at the same time, the league’s preferred light lager flows incessantly.  With such prodigious sums flowing in, there’s no reason for any franchise to be on the dole.

Everyone can get behind opposing NFL welfare.  Liberals should hope to see tax receipts spent on other governmental programs besides corporate subsidies; meanwhile, conservatives don’t want the money collected at all, preferring that workers keep it.  The Bills unite people of all political backgrounds, whether in support of the squad or in opposition to having Erie County pay to maintain Ralph Wilson Stadium so that Ralph Wilson can avoid the charge.

A sliver of fans often moan about market size as a crippling factor, casting the Bills’ billionaire owner as the little guy.  But the solution isn’t to tear down the strong: it’s to figure how to compete with them.  We should instead determine what keeps Buffalo from becoming a large market team.  The biggest factor takes the form of high taxes which are spent on non-essential causes such as, oh, a football franchise that should be paying its own tab.

Forcing the stadium’s namesake to cover his team’s upkeep would eventually help the club.  Less money spent by the government on the Bills means more money for locals to spend on, um, the Bills.  The private influx of cash provoked by a less confiscatory state, county, and city would more than overcome the franchise’s loss of public financial support.

That might mean higher ticket prices; fortunately, there would be far more people who could afford them.  A more hospitable economic situation would not only be pleasant in itself: it would also make the Treaty of Toronto a bland, failed experiment instead of an ominous forerunner to the club’s potential relocation.

The tightwad owner can at least provide fans and taxpayers with a better product.  Maybe Wilson can finally hire an experienced, successful coach this offseason; it’s not a literally impossible outcome, however improbable it might seem.  He can also cough up some of his fortune and acquire an actual general manager instead of a letting a marketing man run the player personnel department. He just needs to uncover qualified football people willing to accept a senior discount.

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