The Buffalo Bills are a nearly universal pick to finish last in the AFC East this season. Judging by the early figures on the secondary ticket market, the Bills may be the least-popular ticket in the NFL, as well.
According to ticket price forecaster SeatGeek.com, a ticket to a Bills home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium is listed for resale for just $85.01, the lowest price in the NFL. The New York Giants, which are opening the New Meadowlands Stadium this season with the New York Jets, have the highest price at $265.29.
SeatGeek.com also reports that of the four NFL games with the lowest average ticket price listed on the resale market, three are Bills home games—their contests against the Cleveland Browns Sunday, December 12 ($41.87), the Detroit Lions Sunday, November 14 ($49.44) and the New England Patriots Sunday, December 26 ($55.17).
With the NFL season set to begin tomorrow night, September 9, with the Minnesota Vikings visiting the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, the once-proud Bills franchise of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith and Marv Levy is a distant memory. And, while some ticket brokers and resellers are optimistic about the upcoming season, not so for the Bills. On StubHub, for example, tickets to more than one game are listed for as low as $20 each, though what those tickets may ultimately sell for is unknown.
The resale market isn’t the only place where the Bills are experiencing slow ticket sales. The team, whose average ticket price increased from $51.24 to $59.19 this season, announced Monday, September 6 that it had sold 43,925 season tickets for the upcoming campaign, a decrease of 11,383 from 2009.
While the dip comes after back-to-back seasons in which the Bills sold more than 55,000 season tickets to 73,967-seat Ralph Wilson Stadium, the news is not entirely bad. Even with this year’s increase in ticket prices, the Bills’ average ticket is still the third-lowest in the NFL and well below the NFL’s 2009 average ticket price of $74.99.
In addition, this year marks the eighth straight season the Bills have sold at least 40,000 season tickets and represents the fifth-highest season ticket base for the franchise since 1995. Those are impressive feats given the poor economy in western New York and the Bills’ recent struggles.
More than 70,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in western New York in the last 10 years while the city of Buffalo has lost more than 26,000 private sector jobs since 2000. Western New York’s unemployment rate as of July 2010 was just above eight percent.
The Bills, which set an NFL record by making (and losing) four straight Super Bowls from 1990-94 and reached the playoffs eight times during the 1990s, haven’t made the playoffs since 1999—the longest drought among AFC teams—and have posted just one winning record since 2000.
The Bills were just 2-10 against the AFC East the last two seasons, have lost their last 12 games against the Patriots and didn’t have nearly as splashy an off-season as their other division rivals, the Jets and Miami Dolphins. The Los Angeles Times went so far as to declare the Bills have the best chance of any team to go 0-16 this season. Should the Bills flirt with that type of ignobility, though, diehard fans and the morbidly obsessed alike shouldn’t have trouble procuring a ticket to the post-Christmas home finale against the Patriots.