Blackouts this season:
The team has a 5-7 record and is about to continue its string of non-winning seasons dating back to 1999. One of its "home" games has been played in Toronto for each of the past four years. Ninety-four-year-old owner Ralph Wilson says he can't guarantee the team's future in Buffalo, N.Y., after he dies.
Combine all that and it's little wonder the Bills struggle to fill the 73,000-seat Ralph Wilson Stadium in the dead of winter. The team blacked out all three of its home games last December and needed a local businessman to step in and buy out tickets to keep its last home game of 2010 on the air on the day after Christmas (the
just kept this weekend's game against the St. Louis Rams on air as well). Game-time temperature in Buffalo for that last game in 2010 was 22 degrees.
The Chicago Bears need to draw less than 62,000 to sell out Soldier Field in a far larger market, but Bills management doesn't want to hear any of it. The Bills want the public to pay for more than $200 million in stadium renovations and declined the NFL's offer to lift blackouts at 85% capacity, largely because doing so would require it to pay $90,000 per home game into the league's anti-blackout revenue pool.
Each year Bills fans make a wish list. Each year, they're lucky if they even get a game on TV for Christmas (last year's Christmas Eve home game against the Denver Broncos was blacked out). Bills fans' blood is thick, but their patience is wearing thin.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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