Donn Esmonde of the Buffalo News doesn’t expect the Bills to remain in Buffalo beyond the 2022, which is when their ten-year lease expires.
Even that could be a bit of an optimistic outlook given that there is no guarantee the franchise remains in Buffalo past the 2019. The team’s agreement includes a one-time exception following the seventh year that would reduce the relocation penalty from $400 million to $28.4 million.
“Long term, it’s fair to say the team is at risk of being moved,” Ted Fay, a sports management professor, tells Esmonde. “Buffalo doesn’t make common sense as a business model.”
Los Angeles continues to be linked to every team that is facing contractual issues or is just looking for leverage in negotiations for a new stadium, so they could be in place for the franchise. The Bills have played numerous games in Toronto as well.
“Ultimately, I think the money does talk,” Carter said. “You have such a small corporate presence in the region. If you are not in a market that generates added revenue (for an owner), you’re really hamstrung. So I think greener pastures will be explored.”
Fay also estimates that a franchise located in Los Angeles would be worth “well in excess” of $20 million more a year than in Buffalo.
Long-time Bills founder and owner, Ralph Wilson, passed away this past week and the team is expected to be sold to the highest bidder. The Bills could explore owners close to the area that would keep the team in Buffalo, but the lure of larger revenues and increasing value of NFL franchises could prove to be too much to pass up for future owners.
There will, undoubtedly, be more regarding the Bills future in the coming months.