As the Buffalo Bills ownership saga continues with various reporters and news agencies chasing their tails, it’s important for educated fans to understand what we know and what is speculation. For starters no prospective owner or ownership group will seriously bid on the Buffalo Bills until the audit is completed and the conditions of the purchase are made available. Front runners today could pull out tomorrow if they do not like the deal.

Secondly, Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear what the league is looking for in a sale of the team. First the NFL wants to keep the team in Buffalo. Secondly a new stadium needs to be part of the future of the franchise and third the new owner must demonstrate a commitment to building a winning team.

Except for the interview with Jerry Jones, all of the other owners at their Spring meeting voiced strong support for keeping the Bills in Buffalo. The NFL enjoys marketing it’s history and building on legacy. The Pro Football Hall of Fame will soon be filled with ten Buffalo Bills, once Andre Reed is enshrined. Letting the franchise leave Buffalo means all of that history becomes antiquated, as with the case with the NFL’s now defunct Buffalo Braves.

The Buffalo Bills of the 1990′s demonstrated just how successful a franchise can be in a small market if the team is highly competitive. The performance by the Bills on the field for the past 15 years is not acceptable in the long run for the rest of the league financially. This change in ownership gives the owners an opportunity to once again have an excited fan base in Western New York.

A winning team means a higher revenue share for every visiting owner and a greater following on the road. The Bills are still among the top ten teams in the league when it comes to television ratings. Much of that is still probably due to the legacy of the Jim Kelly led Super Bowl teams, but regardless the Bills have a strong brand. However, that strength won’t last forever if the team’s playoff drought continues.

Regarding a new stadium, that too has to do with money. A new stadium means higher ticket prices and the visiting team shares in the revenue. A new stadium also means additional sponsorship revenues which assures a strong franchise. Whether the smaller Buffalo market, with a reduced corporate presence can support higher prices is another story.

Goodell has laid out the blue print to what it will take to garner 24 of 31 votes to approve a new owner. Anyone coming to the table with a plan that does not include all three criteria will lose to an ownership group that does.

So before you burn your Bon Jove CD’s or handicap a bidding war between former Sabres owner Tom Golisano and current owner Terry Pegula, let the process separate the wheat from the chaff. You will probably be surprised at who is left standing in the end.

 

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