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Ralph Up the Money

by on July 31, 2012

Spare a thought for the billionaire owner who can’t afford to fix the building that enables him to profit wildly. Ralph Wilson gets to see his name on the venue of his Buffalo Bills, but the stadium’s eponymous nature didn’t inspire him to invest his own money in the place. You can finance his ego boost.

The Bills are back to work even though they don’t have to worry about expenses. Guess who’s destined to fund what we can only hope will be a less mediocre team? Don’t expect to get a jersey or Don Beebe bobblehead out of your mandatory contribution to the local side:

It seems as though the Buffalo Bills and Erie County won’t get their wish when the team opens up training camp at St. John Fisher College.

According to a report by the Buffalo News, the franchise and County Executive Mark Poloncarz have relaxed their original deadline and have a new target in mind.

“We’ve accomplished a lot. Every party knows where the other one stands,” Poloncarz said according to the report. “Now, it’s just that final time where you sort of butt heads with each other until you reach an agreement. So I feel confident we’re going to get an agreement done by the end of the year.”

Poloncarz just needs to figure how much of your money to hand to a private enterprise without your consent. If this team is so popular, why can’t they get fans to finance their improvements through voluntary exchanges of currency for tickets, concessions, and apparel? Well, there’s no reason to spend what you have when the jurisdiction where you make money handsomely is jittery about you leaving:

The present lease with Erie County is set to expire on July 31, 2013. If a deal weren’t reached between now and February 15, 2013 (the NFL deadline to apply for permission to relocate a franchise), and the team is sold sometime before that date, the Bills could conceivably be relocated by next year.

That is not the intent of Poloncarz, saying just a few days prior that the County would like a firm agreement that the would make it incredibly difficult to break a lease that would span over the next 10-to-15 years.

There’s nothing more pathetic than a grown man begging a partner not to leave. The Bills think they have the county by the footballs. And why wouldn’t they? Open your wallets for your team, even if you don’t follow them and someone else technically owns and profits off them:

It is unknown as to what concessions the Bills are asking for in return for an agreement that would prevent the team from moving over the course of the next decade-plus. Poloncarz did tell the Buffalo News that the Bills have asked for renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium that would cost anywhere from $200 million to $220 million.

There’s only one reason the Bills wouldn’t shell out for renovations if they think they’ll benefit from them, namely because they can get away with making someone else pay for them. Erie County can finance Mario Williams’s contract and still hand over enough to relieve Wilson of the burden of remembering his wall safe’s combination.

Local elected suits are always entirely prepared to abandon free market principles, especially when it comes to subsidizing sports franchises. There’s not much comfort in knowing that the area is known for bribing businesses of all types to stay without ever wondering why so many vacate in the first place. But the nine figures destined to line Wilson’s pocket will merely be the most deflating recent example of giving into whatever private outfits desire.

Brutal economic conditions can be blamed on bad luck as much as missing the playoffs for a dozen straight seasons in the salary cap era can. If the endless regulations on top of endless fees and taxes don’t inhibit enough commerce, New York’s lack of right to work legislation will continue to enable unions to overcharge for whatever jobs remain. And some wonder why progress is so slow when the government is intimately involved with every last decision.

As with the Bills over the past decade, the question is merely how soon the county will buckle. The mutual underachievers make a lamentably compatible pair. The unwillingness to be in office if the Bills leave is the overriding guiding principle for Western New York politicians of both parties, which is why Democrats and Republicans alike are unwilling to tell Wilson to fund his own team’s building. Democrat Poloncarz is merely more willing to be wasteful with what had been yours.

The miserly hoary owner could, say, charge more for tickets if the country didn’t subsidize him. Sure, that would make fans grumble. But upside is that same backers would be more likely to possess the ability to afford them on account of reasonable county burdens. And the Bills would only get money from people who liked them. If fans haven’t yet abandoned a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since Bill Clinton’s first term, they never will.

As it is, taxpayers have money taken from them so that the economy can grow. It’s like purposely letting your quarterback get sacked to give the punter more room. Believing that the welfare that goes to the Bills spurs the area’s finances is like holding out hope that Obamanomics is going to lower debt and unemployment any day now.

Fans may as well hold onto the jerseys of typically colossal bust John McCargo in the hope he’ll be traded back and start excelling if they think handouts will lead to financial bliss for all. We can hope a fortified 4-3 defense paired with a healthy offense will make this season an exception to recent tendencies, but the Bills remain historically far better at mooching off the government than football.

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