Bills Stadium Deal

mikcou

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May 13, 2007
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Somewhat corroborative, I found this Buffalo News article from 2019 that reported on some financial impacts of pro sports in Buffalo. Of note, it reported that in 2019, PSE (which I assume is the Pelugas' corporate holding company) paid $396.5M in salaries, which resulted in $30.2M in withholding for state income taxes. That number included payroll taxes for the Sabres, which had about 1/4 of the salaries ($121.4M; Bills salaries were $238.6M), and all operational salaries.

The report also noted that according to a survey done in 2019, Bills fans spent about $65.39 per person in game day spending. (The article does not say if this included out-of-town fans or visiting fans, which I assume would be a much higher per person payout.)

Also, I just want to make the point that a lot of the stadium studies I've seen assume that if fans didn't spend money on the Bills, most of that discretionary spending would be spent in other local entertainment like movies or dinner or bars. I'm not so sure that's true and would be interested to see if anyone has studied that. Pro sports are big ticket items and it seems to me that people who don't spend that money on sporting-related purchases are going to spend the money on other big-ticket entertainment items, particularly out-of-state vacations or what-not, and thus that money wouldn't necessarily get funneled into the local economy. But that's just a WAG.
I think that all makes sense (and may be the source for the report) as pro-rating would seem to give you the rough estimate of what is in the report. The problem is that $30M is state income tax withholding; not NY state income tax withholding so I'm not sure it really tells us anything as to what is going to New York and what is going elsewhere. They almost certainly withhold on a multi-state basis as athletes and their teams are high profile and high audit risk and the Bills would be subject to pretty high penalties to not do so. If $20M or so is their total state withholdings, its almost impossible to believe that 95%+ is going to New York.

If youre asking me: Id be really confident they get $10M between Bills and visitors; pretty confident in the $12-$15M range; and close to zero confidence by the time you get to $20M, but its an incredibly detailed area thats a huge portion of state's benefit and they seem to have done very little work to determine whether the $20M a year is a real number.
 

jose melendez

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I'd add that even with the stubhub effect, I bet football stadiums pan out absolutely terribly. Eight games a year plus some concerts--and while there might be a ton in Vegas, this isn't true in Buffalo or what not--is just a terrible ratio. Never mind the fact that football stadiums, rather than forming the center of a neighborhood, like an urban baseball or basketball/hockey stadium can, almost always forms the center of a larger number of parking lots.

Yes, it's a valuable civic asset--thought one over which the municipality has no ownership--but I find it very, very hard to believe that spending $850 million on something else wouldn't have a better return. And look, s Oakland shriveling up and because the Raiders moved? Did LA? especially in for football, I think there's a case--because of the Stub hub era--where fans migrate, that they are less valuable as civic assets not more.
 

jose melendez

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Also, none of this addresses the fact that if there were a federal approach to ban these sorts of rackets(the copyright example), everywhere would benefit. Imagine getting all of that juicy tax revenue without dropping $800 million in public dollars? Maybe Buffalo loses its team then, but under those circumstances, there's less incentive not to expand.
 

Fishercat

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Will probably just create an insane wind tunnel.

I think there’s a massive, Grand Canyon sized gap between a brand new venue in Las Vegas and an open air stadium in Buffalo, NY.

Along with it being limited in months where it can be a multi-use venue, what artist is going out of their way to go to Buffalo when they can go to MSG or Barclay’s in Brooklyn, or UBS in Belmont Park? They’re competing with a far bigger, more densely populated city within their own state for attractions.
It's also a name recognition thing for those third tier cities. How many times a year would you hear about Buffalo or Jacksonville if it wasn't for pro football? If it's more than twice, you're not living life right.
This is a big point too. My home city (Manchester, NH) had some public momentum for an arena. 100k people, we hadn't had any professional sports in town in eons nor was there an actual performance venue outside of an open field within an hour. They built a 44m arena (which is a bargain now it seems...) with only 20% private funding. 10k seats, at the beginning estimating 120-ish events a year. For the first few years, this was pretty close. The arena was the new hottest spot in town, the AHL games sold out, Arena Football was coming in, and a slew of musicians/performers had a new market to tap into in a new, fresh arena. In 2003-2004 alone, the estimated impact from 770k visitors was just under 44m in overall spending (direct, indirect, implied). Sounds good? Well, those "direct" numbers are basically ticket sales, concessions and off-site buys, so breaking out the 44m, outside of the 13m which is indirect, is tough to see how much benefits the city on the whole vs. the parties involved. It's a big pie but there's a ton of mouths to feed. Now ,that was a peak year.

Looking 20 years later, the SNHU Arena has seven upcoming events scheduled. Both their AHL Team (moved) and Arena Football 2 team (collapsed) are no longer present, which was about 65-70% of attendees to the arena at their peak (less as time went on, degradation of that interest was severe). Working there for a decade, I can say with some confidence that it hasn't been anything but a sporadic contributor to the city for probably at least 5 years as better venues/locations began booking bands, the arena became less appealing as a destination, and sports either left or collapsed. I would imagine the first ten hot years probably brought a lot to Manchester but it was also a heavy commuter experience: people weren't exactly planning vacations to NH (for the most part - there are always exceptions) to go to most of the things the arena had. I imagine the local dining options and bars definitely had a nice uptick on those days, but there's such a huge difference between 10 events and 100 for them, even if a lot of those prior events were minor league sports.

I think there's a lot of arguments that can be made for Buffalo to cave on this but I struggle to think any of them are economic. Generally, I'd expect the secondary advantages of having a big attraction are that you have other things around to justify the bigger trip. Like, if I'm a visiting fan, I'm much more liable to pony up for a flight to, hotels in, restaurants in a place like Vegas or Nashville or Miami (ok, not Miami for me but general population) where I can spend a few days and enjoy a bunch of other things.

Edit: One other consideration that isn't strictly economic is the space of it all. An NFL Stadium is going to use a substantial amount of space and, beyond the pure space it occupies, the existence of it will necessitate many times that space available in parking, roads, etc. This isn't necessarily a negative consideration to Buffalo (there is a stadium already in place so the infrastructure exists) - it's hard for me to imagine what they could use the space for that brings in as many people, but it is worth thinking about in that it has to be a reduction in property spacing for something: housing, public works, private enterprise, etc.Thinking back to NH, the arena required 10 or so businesses to vacate a stripmall/plaza and they used street parking for most of the remaining options so the footprint was small...I don't imagine that's the case for stadium deals.
 
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mauf

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I want to start by saying you are a great poster and I enjoy your contributions to this forum.

But right now you sound like a climate change denier. There are mountains of studies saying stadium deals never benefit the community and very few if any in support of such deals.

They are always bad deals. People do not live in Buffalo because of the Bills and if they did not spend money on the Bills they would spend there money on something else in the area. Americans are terrible at saving money.

Now if the community wants to invest 800 million in a mixed use development, or better schooling or support for disadvantage communities the return to the local economy would be exponentially better than this stadium.

These deals are bad for society and should never happen.

Maybe you should set the ad hominems aside and address his substantive argument. If only a moron would think any stadium or arena deal was a good idea, why are some communities that lost their sports teams (or let them go) trying to lure other teams to take their place? Shouldn’t they be reaping the supposedly obvious benefits of not playing this game and laughing at other communities that are still trying to lure or keep teams?

Any good analysis reduces the data to an easily understandable conclusion so that discussion can focus on the things the data don’t measure. The studies you allude to demonstrate that stadium and arena deals don’t produce a good ROI relative to other public investments; no one here is claiming otherwise. The question, then, is whether hard-to-quantify benefits make at least some of these stadium or arena deals worthwhile. I’m skeptical, but to me that’s a judgment best made by the folks in the local community who are footing the bill. Anyone who has spent any time in western New York understands that the Bills are a source of regional pride that’s often in short supply; it’s not crazy to think that has a value that transcends a dollars-and-cents analysis.
 

Silverdude2167

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Maybe you should set the ad hominems aside and address his substantive argument. If only a moron would think any stadium or arena deal was a good idea, why are some communities that lost their sports teams (or let them go) trying to lure other teams to take their place? Shouldn’t they be reaping the supposedly obvious benefits of not playing this game and laughing at other communities that are still trying to lure or keep teams?

Any good analysis reduces the data to an easily understandable conclusion so that discussion can focus on the things the data don’t measure. The studies you allude to demonstrate that stadium and arena deals don’t produce a good ROI relative to other public investments; no one here is claiming otherwise. The question, then, is whether hard-to-quantify benefits make at least some of these stadium or arena deals worthwhile. I’m skeptical, but to me that’s a judgment best made by the folks in the local community who are footing the bill. Anyone who has spent any time in western New York understands that the Bills are a source of regional pride that’s often in short supply; it’s not crazy to think that has a value that transcends a dollars-and-cents analysis.
Sports teams are status symbols and make politicians look good and losing a team is a bad look to low information voters. That is why cities try to get the teams and fight so hard to keep them. It is not about benefiting the community, it is about politicians staying in power.

Unfortunately in the US, it is acceptable to throw money at billionaires "for the public good" but not to fund programs that actually help society. Because of this, it is not an either-or situation in those communities not trying to lure teams. No one is sitting there saying, well now what are we going to do with this billion dollars. That money is not freely available to get invested in the community, which is a shame. The fact that it is available for billionaires, but not to support the community is why the US is slowly decaying as a country. There is an entire political party that runs on this platform and has broad support. It is not based on facts, but it is very easy to message and again, low information voters love the idea of tax cuts for the rich and hate the idea of funding programs that they do not understand.

There are only 32 NFL teams in the country and there are 317 cities over 100k in the US. I am willing to bet that the other 90% of cities without an NFL team have sources of pride. Buffalo would be fine without the Bills, no one moves to Buffalo for the Bills and no one is leaving Buffalo if the Bills left. If Buffalo invested the money into the community and let the Bills walk, I bet the city would be in a better place in 20 years that it is now.
 
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wade boggs chicken dinner

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Now if the community wants to invest 800 million in a mixed use development, or better schooling or support for disadvantage communities the return to the local economy would be exponentially better than this stadium.
Maybe the government should have built a convention center or convention center hotel?

So I think you've actually hit on one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to this debate.

You see, municipalities don't typically spend money on improvements that directly generate revenue. Governments typically spend money on services - education, utilities, roads, police, fire, public housing, etc. - but none of that directly generates revenue.

The reason why is that most stuff that generates revenue is in the private sector. Take, just for example, a mixed-use development. A government wouldn't spend $850M on a mixed-use development. Why? Because governments aren't in the business of owning a mixed-use development. A government might help a mixed-use development by financing roads, sidewalks, street lights, etc. leading to or a part of the mixed use development, but that investment would be much lower and the government wouldn't own the development at the end of the day.

So governments pay a premium to finance things like stadiums or convention centers or convention center hotels because there aren't a lot of other options governments have for growing the revenue pie.

You say that perhaps NYS or Buffalo would have gotten better return if they have funneled the money into, for example education. Buffalo Public Schools has an annual budget of $1B (approximately). Do you think an extra $20M a year is really going to increase the quality of education provided? And frankly, if it did, there's no reason why NYS/Buffalo couldn't do both the stadium and increase school budgets if it was desired.

From the article I linked above, Erie County's future contributions are apparently "future contributions, meanwhile, would be limited to surcharge revenue – essentially a tax – on stadium users who buy tickets, concessions and other items sold at the new facility." As such, it's basically no cost to Erie County and it's a no-brainer to agree to this.

As for the State, even taking @mikcou's conservative projections, if the State really is getting $15M a year in income taxes from Bills players, coaches, scouts, and other personnel, then it's really only $150M investment over 30 years. To me, that's a no-brainer for the State even before including any other events that might occur there. $5M a year plus operating costs is a rounding error in the NYS budget.

I think if any of us were on the government working group hammering out this deal, we'd recommend it to our various decision-makers. If the Bills were to leave, NYS/Buffalo/Erie County would be contributing way more to get another team, if one were ever available.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Edit: One other consideration that isn't strictly economic is the space of it all. An NFL Stadium is going to use a substantial amount of space and, beyond the pure space it occupies, the existence of it will necessitate many times that space available in parking, roads, etc. This isn't necessarily a negative consideration to Buffalo (there is a stadium already in place so the infrastructure exists) - it's hard for me to imagine what they could use the space for that brings in as many people, but it is worth thinking about in that it has to be a reduction in property spacing for something: housing, public works, private enterprise, etc.Thinking back to NH, the arena required 10 or so businesses to vacate a stripmall/plaza and they used street parking for most of the remaining options so the footprint was small...I don't imagine that's the case for stadium deals.
Buffalo has gone from over 500,000 people to approximately 1/2 of that. Space is not an issue in Buffalo.
 

PseuFighter

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I'm not an economist and way back in college I read plenty of studies about how stadiums, especially football stadiums in the middle of nowhere, ultimately do not pay back to the local economy as anticipated. Sure, they create some short-term feel good union labor jobs to build the thing, but that's about it. I patiently await even one academic study that shows how any of these taxpayer-funded projects ultimately succeed in being economic booms. The proposed Bills stadium checks a few of the boxes that make it even less likely:

(1) it's not in Buffalo; it's 10 miles away in Orchard Park, which is a very quiet area when the Bills aren't playing; a year-round business community isn't going to spring up alongside the new stadium
(2) it's open-air, which aside from one-off hockey or maybe some soccer matches, limits the months non-Bills events can take place; also, forget the Super Bowl
(3) it's not in a major touring/tourist destination, unlike let's say a Vegas, which hugely limits the amount of times per year the facility will be open, and given the smaller population, already has an arena for larger concerts

I would argue that it's more likely than not the stadium is open 8-10 times a year for the Bills, a handful of times with sparse attendance if they get a soccer team (when the trend is actually MLS teams to soccer-specific stadiums), and a few times a year with sparse attendance (think UMass at Gillette Stadium) if they can get college football. On the high end, three concerts a year (comparable to Arrowhead; think like the one-off Bad Bunny or Taylor Swift sorta show). Maybe once every ten years they also get a Sabres-Leafs NHL game. That's what you're looking at.

I also totally understand the civic pride argument, but there's plenty of people in Western New York who don't care about sports and will always believe public dollars will be best spent away from the NFL. I also think if Buffalo really only has the Bills to fall back on, then Buffalo has much bigger problems. Not to mention their owner, admittedly like most owners, is showing no loyalty to the city or to the fans if the result is "sorry folks, we're moving to the city will give us the massive handout" and that's bad. There are plenty of cities in America that have figured out how to grow without a football team. No reason Buffalo can't be one of them.

So anyway, I'm not an economist, won't pretend to be one, so my admittedly ignorant take is basically, if they badly need the new stadium and the fans don't want to lose the bills, and if the price to build is $1.6 billion, there's definitely ways to get there without public funding, including:

(1) PSLs. If Buffalo fans are so nutty about football and it's all they got, despite trends in other cities, there's no doubt they can get 60,000 PSLs filled at an average price of $1500, significantly lower than the cost of PSLs pretty much everywhere else. There's nearly $100 million. This might also be vastly underestimated. The Raiders raised $550 million on PSLs alone.
(2) Stadium naming rights. Sofi Stadium went for $400 million over 20 years, or $20 million per year; Allegiant stadium is a whopping $25 million per year. Highmark on Highmark Stadium, current Bills home, is about $5 million per year. With a shiny new stadium I believe the Bills could command $10 million per year for 20 years, and let's call it, conservatively, $15 million per year for the next 20. That's about $500 million.
(3) The NFL will loan $200 million.

So we have now accounted for $800 million. The team now needs to clear $800 million. If the Pegulas don't want to tie that money up, they can finance it. I suspect they could get a 30-year loan of no more than 3%, probably even less at that amount. This means that over 30 years, they wind up paying an additional $400 million, while they can do whatever they want with their money in the meantime. At the end of 30 years, they own the stadium outright (versus a lease that Bills owners could find some way out of, e.g. Chicago Bears). It also means if they want stadium improvements, they can do it without going back to Albany in 10-15 years and asking for more money, which they will. Meanwhile, I also assume that the value of the Bills continues to increase. At the moment, the Bills are worth $2.7 billion. I imagine in 30 years, the. Bills will be worth at least $6 billion, if not $10 billion or more due to continued increasing valuations (I'm betting on the NFL continuing to operate as a cash-cow, and continue to grow), and, of course, inflation.

End of the day, we're left with a team that will be worth 2-3x what they are today, with a family wealth that should follow. Stadium and land ownership could increase that even more. Let's peg the Pegulas at $15 billion in 30 years. When you look at numbers like that and you see how social services are struggling all over New York State and into New York City (who would be funding this project), I cannot come up with a single argument that makes sense other than "if we don't do this, the governor won't win her upcoming election and we'll have to figure out another way to grow the city of Buffalo which sorry folks we just can't do).
 
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Silverdude2167

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You say that perhaps NYS or Buffalo would have gotten better return if they have funneled the money into, for example education. Buffalo Public Schools has an annual budget of $1B (approximately). Do you think an extra $20M a year is really going to increase the quality of education provided? And frankly, if it did, there's no reason why NYS/Buffalo couldn't do both the stadium and increase school budgets if it was desired.
I mean yes!

The average teacher makes $60k a year in buffalo. So they could add over 300 teachers to the school system.
Reduce class sizes, improve SPED programs, fund after-school programs, etc.

So then you have a better-educated population, less crime, and eventually an improved economy from companies wanting to hire from this new talent pool and a better-educated population wanting to open businesses in the town they grew up in.

Funding education is the easiest and cheapest way to improve a community.

It's 20 million dollars, that is not a small sum of money and it's a much better use of public funds than a stadium. It is so sad that this is even a question.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I mean yes!

The average teacher makes $60k a year in buffalo. So they could add over 300 teachers to the school system.
Reduce class sizes, improve SPED programs, fund after-school programs, etc.

So then you have a better-educated population, less crime, and eventually an improved economy from companies wanting to hire from this new talent pool and a better-educated population wanting to open businesses in the town they grew up in.

Funding education is the easiest and cheapest way to improve a community.

It's 20 million dollars, that is not a small sum of money and it's a much better use of public funds than a stadium. It is so sad that this is even a question.
Once again, it's a misnomer to compare the $850M for the stadium versus funding for schools. A good portion of that $850M (obviously, NYS is saying all of it but you can give that a haircut if you want) is paid for by Bills' and Bills-related revenues.

But more directly to your point, Buffalo Public Schools already has a $1B budget. Let's just for the sake of argument say take the $20M a year figure we are using (which means that NYS/Erie County is only recouping $250M over the 30 years in additional tax revenue). That's 2% of the overall budget of BPS. What kind of better outcomes is an extra 2% going to have? (Frankly this says more about the education system than the stadium funding debate but that's for V&N.)

BPS also has 31,428 students according to 20-21 data. They have approximately 2,730 FTE teachers. If a teacher makes $60K a year, typically one would double that for budgetary purposes to cover health and other costs. $20M is approximately 133 teachers a year. Even if BPS could find an extra 133 teachers, that would reduce the student teacher ratio from 11.51 to 10.98. Is this really making a measurable impact on quality of education?

And again, if for some reason it could, NYS could fund both the stadium and the extra $20M a year without blinking an eye. It's not an either-or situation here.

Improving the educational system might be one very attractive way to make cities better. (NOte for the sake of argument, I am focusing on BPS but there are other school systems in the area that might deserve funding too.) However, urban cities have been trying to figure out how to do this for something like 40 years now. Increasing budgets by 2% isn't going to make a material difference. That's unfortunate but IMO true. And I agree with you, it's sad to have this discussion too.
 

Gdiguy

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It's also a name recognition thing for those third tier cities. How many times a year would you hear about Buffalo or Jacksonville if it wasn't for pro football? If it's more than twice, you're not living life right.
While I think the stadium funding deals are nearly always a terrible idea, I have a lot more sympathy for Buffalo than nearly anywhere else.

Tourism to San Diego isn't going to suffer at all if the football team leaves, that's a drop in the bucket of reasons why people would visit there (much less move there); and for like SF or NYC that's even more so. But if you're the local government, what really puts Buffalo on the map relative to like Rochester? They're basically peers in terms of population, budget, etc - and yet I'd wager than outside of NYState, an order of magnitude more people could tell you where Buffalo is.

Is that actually economically valuable? I don't know... but it almost certainly is psychologically, and so I get it even if I don't know that the economics really justify it
 

Fishercat

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While I think the stadium funding deals are nearly always a terrible idea, I have a lot more sympathy for Buffalo than nearly anywhere else.

Tourism to San Diego isn't going to suffer at all if the football team leaves, that's a drop in the bucket of reasons why people would visit there (much less move there); and for like SF or NYC that's even more so. But if you're the local government, what really puts Buffalo on the map relative to like Rochester? They're basically peers in terms of population, budget, etc - and yet I'd wager than outside of NYState, an order of magnitude more people could tell you where Buffalo is.

Is that actually economically valuable? I don't know... but it almost certainly is psychologically, and so I get it even if I don't know that the economics really justify it
I think it's a thing, to my relatively ignorant mind, where you're both right in terms of self-image but I'm not sure how much it matters outside of personal feeling.

Here's a list of cities in a specific order (their 2020 population, all next to each other), their "Big Four" franchises (using city name as determining factor), and population increase and decrease from 2010 to 2020
  • Irvine, CA (0, +44%)
  • Orlando, FL (1, +29%)
  • Pittsburgh, PA (3, -1%)
  • St. Louis, MO (3, -5.5%)
  • Greensboro, NC (0, +10%)
  • Jersey City, NJ (0, +18%)
  • Anchorage, AK (0, Flat)
  • Lincoln, NE (0, +12%)
  • Plano, TX (0, +10%)
  • Durham, NC (0, +24%)
  • Buffalo, NY (2, +6.5%)
Only about 10% of cities with over 100k residents as of 2020 had a net population loss over those 10 years, but that includes seven cities with Big 4 franchises and several that have 2-4 teams (Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, PIttsburgh, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Memphis). I am sure a lot of this is just averages: they got the teams at a peak point in time and other factors shrunk the population and I am sure there are some people who will move to or stay in a place because of the sports teams in place but it's harder for me to substantiate that it's a real meaningful population

It's one of those things that's really hard to quantify because I agree: whether it's historical meaning or even largely because of sports teams, I bet more people know about Buffalo, NY or Pittsburgh PA or St. Louis MO than Mesa, AZ or El Paso, TX, or Henderson, NV. Like What that means converted to real effect and how much it matters is a very difficult to answer question I'd think.
 

singaporesoxfan

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I think it's a thing, to my relatively ignorant mind, where you're both right in terms of self-image but I'm not sure how much it matters outside of personal feeling.

Here's a list of cities in a specific order (their 2020 population, all next to each other), their "Big Four" franchises (using city name as determining factor), and population increase and decrease from 2010 to 2020
  • Irvine, CA (0, +44%)
  • Orlando, FL (1, +29%)
  • Pittsburgh, PA (3, -1%)
  • St. Louis, MO (3, -5.5%)
  • Greensboro, NC (0, +10%)
  • Jersey City, NJ (0, +18%)
  • Anchorage, AK (0, Flat)
  • Lincoln, NE (0, +12%)
  • Plano, TX (0, +10%)
  • Durham, NC (0, +24%)
  • Buffalo, NY (2, +6.5%)
Only about 10% of cities with over 100k residents as of 2020 had a net population loss over those 10 years, but that includes seven cities with Big 4 franchises and several that have 2-4 teams (Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, PIttsburgh, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Memphis). I am sure a lot of this is just averages: they got the teams at a peak point in time and other factors shrunk the population and I am sure there are some people who will move to or stay in a place because of the sports teams in place but it's harder for me to substantiate that it's a real meaningful population

It's one of those things that's really hard to quantify because I agree: whether it's historical meaning or even largely because of sports teams, I bet more people know about Buffalo, NY or Pittsburgh PA or St. Louis MO than Mesa, AZ or El Paso, TX, or Henderson, NV. Like What that means converted to real effect and how much it matters is a very difficult to answer question I'd think.
I agree with your overall point, but I would caution about using city municipal borders as a way to judge population size, because the borders are often a political construct - Buffalo might be similar in size to Anchorage, but the Buffalo metro area, which is really what matters when you think about the economic impact of a football team, is something like 3 times the size on Anchorage. MSA populations in America
 

Fishercat

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I agree with your overall point, but I would caution about using city municipal borders as a way to judge population size, because the borders are often a political construct - Buffalo might be similar in size to Anchorage, but the Buffalo metro area, which is really what matters when you think about the economic impact of a football team, is something like 3 times the size on Anchorage. MSA populations in America
Great call out - I definitely agree when evaluating economic impact it has to be at minimum metro area. My focus was, perhaps too much, on reputation to the name.
 

singaporesoxfan

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Any good analysis reduces the data to an easily understandable conclusion so that discussion can focus on the things the data don’t measure. The studies you allude to demonstrate that stadium and arena deals don’t produce a good ROI relative to other public investments; no one here is claiming otherwise. The question, then, is whether hard-to-quantify benefits make at least some of these stadium or arena deals worthwhile. I’m skeptical, but to me that’s a judgment best made by the folks in the local community who are footing the bill. Anyone who has spent any time in western New York understands that the Bills are a source of regional pride that’s often in short supply; it’s not crazy to think that has a value that transcends a dollars-and-cents analysis.
Feels to me that the best way to split the difference between spending to boost local civic pride and spending to boost economic growth and other benefits is to invest in growing a local university and agreeing that part of that goes towards boosting its football and other sports teams. Austin, Columbus, and the Research Triangle all are areas where the presence of research universities have vastly contributed to their local economies and attracting economic growth, while having strong pride in those college teams.
 

shaggydog2000

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Feels to me that the best way to split the difference between spending to boost local civic pride and spending to boost economic growth and other benefits is to invest in growing a local university and agreeing that part of that goes towards boosting its football and other sports teams. Austin, Columbus, and the Research Triangle all are areas where the presence of research universities have vastly contributed to their local economies and attracting economic growth, while having strong pride in those college teams.
But you're also working back from the successes. Survivor bias and all of that. You can't invest in making your university excellent at everything unless you're a huge deep pocketed university that is already successful, and even they pick and choose what to invest big in. And even if you build a center of excellence in something, dropping big money in specialized labs and capabilities, you still need to attract the teaching and research talent to your school, which doesn't always happen. And then you need to have investment cash flowing into the area to support startups based off the research and drive real economic growth. The ideal is that you get the local and state government to go all in on a certain emerging tech. Buffalo for example was going to make solar panels for Solar City and built a huge plant for that. The Universities in Buffalo could have invested in research programs on solar panel materials research, and vocational tech programs to support the plants. But then that plan flopped. The state gambled and lost. You can blame the company (Solar City and then Tesla) but it was the wrong industry at the wrong time, with internal Chinese competition driving the price of solar panels to levels the Buffalo plant could never compete with. The NFL is still a bit of a gamble, but it's as close to a sure thing as there is. It's not creating a whole new regional industry, but it's also not throwing away a billion dollars.
 

absintheofmalaise

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Looks like the general counsel and a Sr VP for Delaware North is the First Mr. of New York. It turns out that Delaware North is currently the concession company of the Bills stadium.
And no, neither he nor Delaware North participated in any of the negotiations. Their contract is over at the end of 2022.
Bill Hochul is senior vice president and general counsel for Delaware North, the major food concessionaire at the Buffalo Bills’ current Highmark Stadium.

Delaware North and its employees stand to potentially benefit from another 30 years of work at the new stadium, assuming the Buffalo-based firm keeps the concession.

“Delaware North has operated concessions, premium dining and retail services at Highmark Stadium since 1992. The 71,870-seat venue is home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills,” a summary on the firm’s website says.
“One of the biggest winners of this bad stadium deal is Delaware North. Delaware North will make far more money from additional new food service and beverage business in the new stadium,” said John Kaehny, executive director of the government watchdog group Reinvent Albany.

Kaehny asked how Hochul avoided a conflict in approving the Bills’ stadium deal “when her husband’s firm, Delaware North, is one of the big winners.”

“This is such a bad deal for the taxpayers it’s mind boggling,” he said.
edit: spelling
 
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Ale Xander

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I think it's a thing, to my relatively ignorant mind, where you're both right in terms of self-image but I'm not sure how much it matters outside of personal feeling.

Here's a list of cities in a specific order (their 2020 population, all next to each other), their "Big Four" franchises (using city name as determining factor), and population increase and decrease from 2010 to 2020
  • Irvine, CA (0, +44%)
  • Orlando, FL (1, +29%)
  • Pittsburgh, PA (3, -1%)
  • St. Louis, MO (3, -5.5%)
  • Greensboro, NC (0, +10%)
  • Jersey City, NJ (0, +18%)
  • Anchorage, AK (0, Flat)
  • Lincoln, NE (0, +12%)
  • Plano, TX (0, +10%)
  • Durham, NC (0, +24%)
  • Buffalo, NY (2, +6.5%)
Only about 10% of cities with over 100k residents as of 2020 had a net population loss over those 10 years, but that includes seven cities with Big 4 franchises and several that have 2-4 teams (Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, PIttsburgh, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Memphis). I am sure a lot of this is just averages: they got the teams at a peak point in time and other factors shrunk the population and I am sure there are some people who will move to or stay in a place because of the sports teams in place but it's harder for me to substantiate that it's a real meaningful population

It's one of those things that's really hard to quantify because I agree: whether it's historical meaning or even largely because of sports teams, I bet more people know about Buffalo, NY or Pittsburgh PA or St. Louis MO than Mesa, AZ or El Paso, TX, or Henderson, NV. Like What that means converted to real effect and how much it matters is a very difficult to answer question I'd think.
I love you Fishercat, but that list and the concept of a “Big 4” is kind of arbitrary.
I’m pretty sure Lincoln cares more about having a college football team than not having an NHL team, you can’t separate the Ducks or Angels from other nearby OC towns, and Orlando cares about Disney a lot more than the NBA or the 3 “big” sports it doesn’t have, especially when Tampa is less than 90 miles away.
 

Fishercat

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I love you Fishercat, but that list and the concept of a “Big 4” is kind of arbitrary.
I’m pretty sure Lincoln cares more about having a college football team than not having an NHL team, you can’t separate the Ducks or Angels from other nearby OC towns, and Orlando cares about Disney a lot more than the NBA or the 3 “big” sports it doesn’t have, especially when Tampa is less than 90 miles away.
I actually think we agree in that I don’t think pro sports really matters in that sense. Like, I’m sure people in Orlando like having the Magic but I don’t think people are moving there primarily because there’s an NBA team. If anything is a draw, Disney would be, but I really don’t think people move to or stay in a place for local entertainment in real numbers. To your point, I bet a lot of people in Lincoln love Nebraska Football and it’s part of their life, but I imagine the reasons people are moving to Lincoln aren’t that but other real life factors.
 

mauf

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Looks like the general counsel and a Sr VP for Delaware North is the First Mr. of New York. It turns out that Delaware North is currently the concession company of the Bills stadium.
And no, neither he nor Delaware North participated in any of the negotiations. Their contract is over at the end of 2022.



edit: spelling
Shocking that the New York Post is peddling this baseless allegation against a woman politician.

If the deal happens, it will be a publicly owned stadium, and concession contract for the new venue will be bid out like any government contract.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Here are some more details of the Stadium deal - https://buffalonews.com/news/local/state-releases-deal-memo-but-few-details-emerge-on-how-new-york-will-pay-for/article_7496d5c2-af5f-11ec-b49f-ff4a7d482624.html - but exact terms are not known.

In addition to the municipal contribution, NYS will be paying $13M a year into various maintenance and operations funds. As far as I can tell, they've been paying at least $6M a year into a similar fund for the old stadium.

NYS also gets to use 1 suite a year. I wonder who gets to use that? :)

I think we all agree that even from the general terms that we know about, it's not a great deal for the government but I also don't think it's a horrible deal. Interesting that NYS is so flush with cash that they could pay most of not all of their upfront contribution from budget surpluses.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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How much do you calculate approximately?
We talked a bit about this upthread. NYS says the entire $850M. I've seen projections like these and they are invariably optimistic. But I think 1/2 is conservative. If you include the Sabres, which would be the next in line to leave if the Bills left, I don't think 3/4 is too optimistic. I posted an article upthread that said that the Pelugas' sports business paid approximately $29M in state income taxes, but that included the Sabres, some other smaller sports franchises, and operational personnel which may or may not be tied directly into the Bills or other sports.

Also, I posted an article that says that Erie County's contributions are capped at taxes generated at the site so they will be out-of-pocket for nothing.
 

Humphrey

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We talked a bit about this upthread. NYS says the entire $850M. I've seen projections like these and they are invariably optimistic. But I think 1/2 is conservative. If you include the Sabres, which would be the next in line to leave if the Bills left, I don't think 3/4 is too optimistic. I posted an article upthread that said that the Pelugas' sports business paid approximately $29M in state income taxes, but that included the Sabres, some other smaller sports franchises, and operational personnel which may or may not be tied directly into the Bills or other sports.

Also, I posted an article that says that Erie County's contributions are capped at taxes generated at the site so they will be out-of-pocket for nothing.
The Sabres are run terribly. No playoff appearances since 2010-11, which in a league with a common draft and a salary cap, is near impossible. No one would raise much of a fuss if the Pegulas held them hostage.
 
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8slim

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The Sabres are run terribly. No playoff appearances since 2010-11, which in a league with a common draft and a salary cap, is near impossible. No one would raise much of a fuss if the Pegulas held them hostage.
I moved to CT the year before the Whalers left Hartford. I’m not sure what the economic calculus may be, but it seems that the city is still reeling from that loss in many ways.

It’s easy to dismiss the intangible impact, but Hartford will never be a pro city again. It’s different for somewhere like LA, but when a smaller metro loses a pro team, that’s that.

The state has dumped a decent amount of money into the Civic Center since the Whalers left, so it’s not like there’s been zero arena spending since the late 90s. And I have to imagine that there’s never been an adequate replacement of those 40-50 event nights that disappeared for the nearby restaurants, bars, shops and hotels.
 

j-man

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my town has 80K and is 25-30 min from another 35k plus a hour drive from memphis and 2 hr from littie rock they have redwoif stadium about 30'000 for football that gets haif full at best for conf games and the covo a 10k seat baketball arena

my point is if i had 5 bilion i would buy the jags and move to jonesboro here why

there is a rapid growing town between Jonesboro and Paragould called Brookland which 10 y ago was about 800 people and now is around 4k

what wouild i do well pay for the new stadium myseif and build a mall/shops distact around town
jonesboro is a 5 hr away from around 5 mil people

my place wouild be like the old mile high just up to date the only owners who wouild block me wouild be jerry jones he thinks arkansas is cowboy land and tenn owners
 

Gunfighter 09

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sezwho

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And yet lots of big cities do subsidize their stadiums like morons. I always thought NYC was absolutely insane to subsidize the Mets and Yankees. Move to NJ and see how it works out.
Giants and Jets already play at MetLife in NJ, not sure on financing terms for the stadium.
 

Old Fart Tree

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my town has 80K and is 25-30 min from another 35k plus a hour drive from memphis and 2 hr from littie rock they have redwoif stadium about 30'000 for football that gets haif full at best for conf games and the covo a 10k seat baketball arena

my point is if i had 5 bilion i would buy the jags and move to jonesboro here why

there is a rapid growing town between Jonesboro and Paragould called Brookland which 10 y ago was about 800 people and now is around 4k

what wouild i do well pay for the new stadium myseif and build a mall/shops distact around town
jonesboro is a 5 hr away from around 5 mil people

my place wouild be like the old mile high just up to date the only owners who wouild block me wouild be jerry jones he thinks arkansas is cowboy land and tenn owners
You would move the Jags... to Arkansas?
 

Ale Xander

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Jonesboro has a population of 82k, outside of the top 400 in the country.
the MSA has about 125k
Median income for a household is around 30k

people aren’t driving 2+ hours (let alone 5) to watch a Jags game vs the Colts/Texans
 

j-man

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Dec 19, 2012
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Arkansas
Jonesboro has a population of 82k, outside of the top 400 in the country.
the MSA has about 125k
Median income for a household is around 30k

people aren’t driving 2+ hours (let alone 5) to watch a Jags game vs the Colts/Texans
people love football here my point is with a good saie job a patroit place type situp and memphis/littierock involed all of a sudden 82k turns into 2 million it's a pipe dream that will never happed thanks to jerry jones because he think all of arkansas is cowboy cournry when NW Arkansas is chiefs and NE arkansas is Cowboys/tittans/steelers
 

Doug Beerabelli

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axx

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I'll just continue to beat the drum that these deals are more about "Campaign Contributions" from the construction companies that build the stadiums.
 

trekfan55

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Cross posting from the A's thread in the MLB forum. Cities are willing to pony up the $$$, teams will keep asking for them.
 

Awesome Fossum

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Which of these stadiums should a football fan try to see a game in before they close? I'm imaging the Titans' stadium is whatever. Bills maybe? Bears in Soldier Field probably?