Bills Will Not Participate in New Blackout Rules | News
BUFFALO, NY - The NFL is relaxing its policy on blackouts this year, but it appears the Buffalo Bills are not opting in.
The new league policy allows teams to televise games even when stadiums are only 85% sold out.
But in a remark posted on the team's web site, Bills CEO Russ Brandon tells says that the team will not participate in the relaxed rule.
Teams who take part in the new policy would have to pay a greater amount in the league-wide revenue sharing.
Brandon says that amount would be a significant loss.
Brandon also said the Bills are a volume business and need to keep ticket prices low and sell a great number of tickets in order to be successful.
A member of the team's public relations department told WGRZ-TV that both Brandon and team spokesman Scott Berchtold were out of the office on Friday and that neither could be made available, even by phone, to answer questions regarding the decision.
"While we are disappointed that the Bills aren't planning to opt-in to the NFL's new relaxed blackout policy, we understand and respect their decision. Unfortunately, the new rule makes it more difficult on small market teams to participate by asking them to predict a ticket selling threshold with the risk of lost revenue. We hope that the rule can be further refined by the league to allow better participation among all markets. We continue to passionately support the team and hope that consistent sellouts will allow every Bills fan to the opportunity to see every game this year," says Buffalo Fan Alliance President Matt Sabuda.
Congressman Brian Higgins released the following statement after learning the Buffalo Bills will not change their blackout policy:
"Western New York is home to the most loyal fan base in the NFL and the decision by the Bills to continue the practice of blacking out the television screens of local fans is deeply disappointing.
"I have a great deal of respect for the Bills organization which operates a team this community loves and supports. The game day experience for the 12th Man at Ralph Wilson Stadium is something that can never be replicated at home and one we should continue to encourage and promote. However, it is fundamentally unfair and fiscally short-sighted to alienate the dedicated fans regardless of where they sit to cheer on our team."
Higgins later told Two On Your Side he thought the Bills were being "short sighted", and that he will seek the intervention of the Federal Communications Commission, in an effort to get the NFL to amend its blackout policy in regard to games being broadcast on network television.
"I've seen the revenue reports for the last 15 years," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who is currently in the midst of hammering out a new lease agreement for the Bills to continue playing at Ralph Wilson stadium.
"We know exactly how much revenue they're generating at the stadium, and it is not comparable to other NFL Teams...on some game days they make $2.5 - $3.5 million dollars," Poloncarz said, while stating that the figure the Bills make by playing their annual game at Toronto is closer to $7 million.
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