Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
HipKat

Why Buffalo Bills plan to reduce seating capacity, despite building a bigger stadium

Recommended Posts

 

The Buffalo Bills began this season by setting a franchise record before playing a single game.

The new mark for season ticket sales – 60,000 – was spurred by pandemic-related economic conditions and an exciting team, and it may never be topped because the Bills’ future stadium won’t have enough seats to allow it.

 

“We sold out of season tickets for the first time in our team’s history this year,” said Ron Raccuia, the executive vice president of Pegula Sports & Entertainment, during an interview with The Buffalo News. “The stadium seats 69,000, but there’s a cap on season ticket sales, so you always have a fair amount of individual game tickets for fans to buy.”

There are several reasons for the surge.

On the field, the Bills were primed for a Super Bowl run. They returned virtually every starter and coach from a team that reached the AFC championship game last season, including NFL MVP runner-up Josh Allen and All-Pro wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who led the league in catches and receiving yards in 2020.

Off the field, the buying frenzy was fueled by the pent-up demand of fans who were unable to attend home games last season because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which for some may have contributed to extra discretionary income. Many 2020 season ticket holders also allowed the Bills to keep their money and put those funds toward season tickets in 2021, giving the business office a healthy head start to filling seats this season.

None of these factors is sustainable, which is why the Bills plan to reduce the capacity in their new stadium to between 60,000 to 62,000 seats and a general admission, standing-room-only party deck with space for up to another 5,000 fans. Shrinking capacity hasn’t gone over well with some fans. But sports marketing professionals, engineers and economists explained the reasoning behind the national trend in interviews with The News.

“I think that’s smart,” said John Cimperman, a longtime NBA and NHL marketing executive who owns 42 North Brewing Co. in East Aurora. “I know there’s been some negative reaction to the reduced capacity, but it is a trend we’re seeing across venue development – in particular, the reduction of premium seating."

 

Cimperman said a lot of venues include craft beer decks or other communal spaces as younger fans look for social interaction and popular party decks.

“People are buying experiences,” Cimperman said. “They’re not buying places.”

Fewer seats, larger stadium

Reducing seating capacity does not mean the Bills want to build a smaller stadium.

On the contrary, the team’s stadium proposal is significantly larger than the venue the Bills have called home for nearly 50 years. Highmark Stadium, which opened in 1973, is a little over 900,000 square feet, while the Bills plan to build a new stadium that would be about 1.5 million square feet, Raccuia said.

“The stadium itself doesn’t have to be smaller to be a smaller seating capacity,” said Ryan Starkovich, the sports practice director at Henderson Engineers, which has worked on several new venues, including SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., which opened in 2020.

Starkovich compared SoFi, the $5 billion home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, to AT&T Stadium, the Dallas Cowboys’ venue in Arlington, Texas, that opened in 2009.

Both can be reconfigured to seat more than 100,000 spectators.

But “Jerry World” checks in at 3 million square feet and typically sits about 80,000 fans, while SoFi is 3.1 million square feet and sits 70,000 fans.

 

“SoFi is a larger facility, but it just seats less,” Starkovich said. “It’s about the fan experience and how you move through the space.”

 

SoFi will host Super Bowl LVI in February and serve as the centerpiece for the 2028 Summer Olympics.

“It seats the exact same number that Highmark does right now,” Raccuia said. “It’s really unrealistic to think that a market like L.A., hosting those types of events, and a market like Buffalo could have the same capacity.”

Roger Noll, the professor of economics emeritus at Stanford University, said additional square footage rarely leads to increased seating capacity in modern venues.

“Usually, a main motivating factor for a new stadium is to vastly increase the space devoted to concessions,” Noll said. “Some of them include hotels and video arcades and all kinds of stuff, besides just selling beer and hot dogs.”

Raccuia said the Bills’ new stadium would use the additional square footage to incorporate food preparation and maintenance facilities – these are located outside of Highmark Stadium – and to create more temperature-controlled areas and significantly wider concourses. Bills fans can also expect better wireless internet access, bigger monitors and multiple video boards to better compete with their viewing experience at home, as well as increased comfort.

The Bills plan to keep a similar seating bowl in a new stadium, but with larger seats, more legroom and wider aisles, which would reduce capacity.

“We’re going to do everything we can to keep the same type of bowl, with great sightlines to feel like you’re right on top of the field,” Raccuia said. “But we have to create the other spaces in a bigger way.”

Fewer tickets, more options

The Bills expect to sell about 50,000 season tickets at a new stadium, which would require the purchase of personal seat licenses, which would cost, at a minimum, about $1,000 apiece, The News reported in September. The average ticket price would increase because of inflation and added options, Raccuia said.

Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College in Massachusetts said the stadium’s reduced capacity could lead to fewer empty seats on game days and increased ticket prices, as well, based on simple supply and demand.

“It’s always in the team’s interest to generate a psychology that it’s special to be at the ballgame,” Zimbalist said. “And if they put the game on television and it’s not sold out, then the whole idea, this mystique of – ‘Gee, hey, lucky me. I’ve got a ticket to the Bills game this weekend!’ – that starts to go away.”

Raccuia said the Bills are seeking a new stadium because the current facility has structural deficiencies and is not worth renovating – not to increase revenue.

While teams often reduce seating capacity in the upper deck and end zones because the cheapest seats provide the lowest return on investment, the Bills also plan to cut about 1,000 of their most expensive seats by reducing the number of suites by about 45%, Raccuia said.

The new venue, which has not been designed, would have roughly 60 suites, compared to 110 at Highmark Stadium.

Raccuia said the mix of ticket options in the new stadium would “change dramatically” from what the Bills offer today: 100-level seats, 300-level seats, 200-level clubs and suites.

“In essence, we really only have four different products,” Raccuia said. “In a new stadium, we could have upwards of a dozen or more different products to fit every fan, from the standing-room-only party deck scenario to a 24- or a 36-person suite. That gives you flexibility, in a new stadium, to create those options that really give the fan anything that they could want to fit their price point.”

Raccuia said the Bills had “never even come close” to selling 60,000 season tickets before this season and that the previous record was in the mid-50,000 range.

A sellout at Highmark Stadium does not mean the building is filled to capacity, he said, because of returns, no-shows and other reasons. He said a sellout translates into a crowd in the mid-60,000 range.

A financial impact report commissioned by the Bills, which was included among the documents made public last week by New York State, included a breakdown comparing average paid attendance and turnstile attendance from 2015 to 2019. Paid attendance was 64,070 per game, while turnstile was 55,454. That’s for a 10-game season, which means preseason games may slightly suppress the numbers.

The Bills’ average paid attendance this season through eight regular season home games is 68,196, which ranks 14th out of 32 teams, according to ESPN data. It also amounts to 95.2% of stadium capacity, which ranks 20th in the league. 

That’s after setting a record for season ticket sales.

“Reducing capacity is not a product of struggling to fill the stadium when the team is as successful as we are now,” Raccuia said, “but historically it has been a problem struggling to fill, especially later in the season when the weather turns on the games. If you look at our ticket sales, even opening day, there was an amazing crowd, filled to the rafters. We still only had 65,000 people in the house.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1

“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

 

Twitter: @HKTheResistance

 

HipKat, on *** other h***, is genuine, unapoli***tically nasty, and w**** his hea** on his ******. jc856

I’ll just forward them to Bridgett. comssvet11

Seek help. soflabillsfan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In a small market-nothing else to do town like Buffalo, the Bills have a large fan base. If NYstate, the county of Erie or the bills propose anything other than an 80,000 seat domed facility then it will be a total joke.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Very Wide Right said:

In a small market-nothing else to do town like Buffalo, the Bills have a large fan base. If NYstate, the county of Erie or the bills propose anything other than an 80,000 seat domed facility then it will be a total joke.

I go both ways. We filled, easily, 80,000 seats for decades. But a Bills game was affordable before they added the boxes and lowered the capacity. Even at the lowest prices in the league, I'd be OK with about 65,000 seats, give or take, if it kept costs down or left room for other attractions in the stadium


“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

 

Twitter: @HKTheResistance

 

HipKat, on *** other h***, is genuine, unapoli***tically nasty, and w**** his hea** on his ******. jc856

I’ll just forward them to Bridgett. comssvet11

Seek help. soflabillsfan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, HipKat said:

I go both ways. We filled, easily, 80,000 seats for decades. But a Bills game was affordable before they added the boxes and lowered the capacity. Even at the lowest prices in the league, I'd be OK with about 65,000 seats, give or take, if it kept costs down or left room for other attractions in the stadium

My point is that they are starting to make noise about no dome. Don't forget,a domed stadium can be used for many other events other than football. I can tell you that I think they should consider a novel approach of installing refrigeration lines under the field so the domed stadium could actually be used for hockey games , just imagine a leaf-sabre or other rivalry and playoff games with 60,000 available seats.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Very Wide Right said:

My point is that they are starting to make noise about no dome. Don't forget,a domed stadium can be used for many other events other than football. I can tell you that I think they should consider a novel approach of installing refrigeration lines under the field so the domed stadium could actually be used for hockey games , just imagine a leaf-sabre or other rivalry and playoff games with 60,000 available seats.

I'm against the no Dome approach. It's not the fucking 70's anymore. People have higher expectations. I suffered through a LOT of Late winter Bills games and yeah, that would be cool, using it for Hockey

  • Like 2

“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

 

Twitter: @HKTheResistance

 

HipKat, on *** other h***, is genuine, unapoli***tically nasty, and w**** his hea** on his ******. jc856

I’ll just forward them to Bridgett. comssvet11

Seek help. soflabillsfan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

so increase demand by making 60k seats at higher prices even though Bills can easily sell closer to 60k in seasons alone. Stating they want the masses to think sold out and hard to get and need to buy.

Then!!!  build a 5k party deck standing room only for gen admission!! lol.  Likely can walk up anytime and buy and go in. Totally counteracting the 60k build idea.

At same time they Ignore the reason the avg season attendance is lower than the capacity is due to late season bad cold weather. And ignoring the real fix to all this contrived thinking. Build a f'n dome that is expandable for big events!!

For the record I want 70 k dome like Indy capacity. Then a 5k party deck too.

65k with 5k party deck i hope they compromise on no smaller. And hope capacity is expandable for bigger games or events.

 

 

  • Like 2

cba fan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Meanwhile the moron taxpayers go along with their elected officials, who are lining their pocket off kickbacks, saying we can’t afford a dome and we won’t build a single stadium for both UB and Bills.  If this is not a multi use dome that will be used for more than Bills games 10 times a year, the people of western New York that haven’t left already need to pack their bags and get out of that state. The Pagulas push this ONE BUFFALO crap, they don’t believe that, it’s just another money making ploy.  Here’s any idea for ONE BUFFALO, a downtown dome, multi use stadium/arena that can be used by all Buffalo sports teams and events.  No instead let’s spend more taxpayer money and build a separate venue for each.  What a joke!  I’m glad I’m only 6 hrs from St Louis.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/9/2022 at 10:53 AM, Buffalochief2 said:

Meanwhile the moron taxpayers go along with their elected officials, who are lining their pocket off kickbacks, saying we can’t afford a dome and we won’t build a single stadium for both UB and Bills.  If this is not a multi use dome that will be used for more than Bills games 10 times a year, the people of western New York that haven’t left already need to pack their bags and get out of that state. The Pagulas push this ONE BUFFALO crap, they don’t believe that, it’s just another money making ploy.  Here’s any idea for ONE BUFFALO, a downtown dome, multi use stadium/arena that can be used by all Buffalo sports teams and events.  No instead let’s spend more taxpayer money and build a separate venue for each.  What a joke!  I’m glad I’m only 6 hrs from St Louis.  

St Louis?? lol

curious, what does that have to do with Bills stadium issues?


cba fan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, cba fan said:

St Louis?? lol

curious, what does that have to do with Bills stadium issues?

Why did the Chargers leave San Diego, the Raiders leave Oakland, the Browns leave Cleveland? Stadium issues were among the problems.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/10/2022 at 1:10 PM, Buffalochief2 said:

Why did the Chargers leave San Diego, the Raiders leave Oakland, the Browns leave Cleveland? Stadium issues were among the problems.  

why are you glad you are only 6 hrs from St Louis? That is my question. ?

when i said "what does that have to do with Bills stadium issues?" 

the "that" in that question was, why are you glad you are only live 6 hrs from St Louis. ??

  • Like 1

cba fan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, cba fan said:

why are you glad you are only 6 hrs from St Louis? That is my question. ?

when i said "what does that have to do with Bills stadium issues?" 

the "that" in that question was, why are you glad you are only live 6 hrs from St Louis. ??

St Louis wants a football team since the Rams went back to LA.  Google it.  You will get a bunch of articles, even some saying the Bills end up in St Louis.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Buffalochief2 said:

St Louis wants a football team since the Rams went back to LA.  Google it.  You will get a bunch of articles, even some saying the Bills end up in St Louis.   

ok ty that explains it then. 


cba fan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/9/2022 at 11:53 AM, Buffalochief2 said:

Meanwhile the moron taxpayers go along with their elected officials, who are lining their pocket off kickbacks, saying we can’t afford a dome and we won’t build a single stadium for both UB and Bills.  If this is not a multi use dome that will be used for more than Bills games 10 times a year, the people of western New York that haven’t left already need to pack their bags and get out of that state. The Pagulas push this ONE BUFFALO crap, they don’t believe that, it’s just another money making ploy.  Here’s any idea for ONE BUFFALO, a downtown dome, multi use stadium/arena that can be used by all Buffalo sports teams and events.  No instead let’s spend more taxpayer money and build a separate venue for each.  What a joke!  I’m glad I’m only 6 hrs from St Louis.  

The Pegulas will NOT spend one dime from their own pockets for a stadium and that is why the decision is being driven to the cheapest option.

NFL rules require the owners of the team to pay for a minimum of 25% of the total cost of a new stadium but it is all optics PR for the NFL since the NFL allows the owner's 25% contribution to come from luxury seating, suite and PSL sales.

Kim "Maintain Owners Lifestyle" Pegula will NOT allow her cluck-hold husband to spend a dime that could otherwise go to their new super mega yacht.  Those gold plated back splashes on the yacht's 6 bars and the platinum anchor is NOT going to pay for themselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...