Niagara Gazette

Bills

September 23, 2012

Fair-weather fans must stick out the season

COMMENTARY

(Continued)

ORCHARD PARK —

Judgement Day is coming for this pro football market. If multiple blacked out games and a continued inability to excite the Toronto fanbase persist, it becomes increasingly difficult to argue Western New York is still a viable home for this franchise.

The Bills' business model is based largely on the belief that more than 70,000 fans will file into the stadium on any given Sunday. That’s why ticket prices are lower here than anywhere else in the league and the billionaires who run the NFL forgive the market’s relative lack of corporate sponsorship dollars and big-spending suite-buyers.

Let’s be honest with ourselves — this isn’t quite as big of a football hotbed as we’d like to believe. Go to any high school game on a Friday night or UB on a Saturday if you diagree. 

Our three favorite past times, in no particular order, are eating, drinking and communally cheering on the Bills and Sabres.

September and October games at the Ralph provide the perfect venue to indulge in all three activities at once.

But when the winter weather we often claim to be so unaffected by hits, the eating and drinking aspect of going to a Bills game because far less appealing, and thousands of us decide to stay home and watch on television.

Or stay home and complain about the game being blacked out.

Bills officials have taken measures to curb rowdy behavior in the stands and team-owned lots. But they must be careful not to alienate this large bloc of the fan base, or the calls to "Make Mom Proud" will bounce off empty rows of seats in the stadium's upper bowl.

On the other hand, those fans need to do their part by showing up for every game, not just a select few.

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