Before the Syracuse Orange’s game on Friday, an interesting story in The Athletic regarding our collegiate peers down I-90. Pegula Sports and Entertainment is looking for the Buffalo Bulls to join their new “football stadium project.” (Drink for every stadium mention!)
What this tells me is that the UB athletic department will be aggressively pursuing big name opponents for select “showcase games” at the Bills new stadium once constructed. Games against Penn State or Syracuse could draw over 40,000 in Buffalo.https://t.co/bH0C8XMA3Z pic.twitter.com/ddkMi1DnkO— Mike Bundt (@Mike_Bundt) September 24, 2021
For those wondering what the Pegula end goal could be, just look at our ACC brethren, the Pittsburgh Panthers. The Pittsburgh Steelers invite the Panthers to become tenants in an effort to secure public funding for the stadium, which was successful, and allowed them to seek even more from taxpayers for a later renovation which was eventually paid in full privately. The Pegulas, owners of the Buffalo Bills and Sabers, are clearly looking to cut the costs of a new stadium, which is currently estimated at around $1.5 billion according to the Athletic article.
As Mike mentions in the tweet, a shiny new stadium seems ripe for shiny showcase games, and while the Pegulas are strongly tied to Penn State, there’s no need to limit games in Buffalo, NY to just the Nittany Lions. The Orange seem to be natural fits for a series with Buffalo, even though John’s FOIA to Buffalo didn’t seem to indicate that there are any conversations taking place.
FOIA to UB a month back didn't seem like anything was in the works with Syracuse. But preliminary conversations could also just be over the phone. Personally, don't see benefit for SU. Win and you're suppose to. Lose and you lose positioning in-state. https://t.co/tIHz2zKTrc— John Cassillo (@JohnCassillo) September 24, 2021
The reality of the situation is that playing the Bulls is a no win situation for the Orange: win and it’s nothing, lose and it hurts recruiting and perception not just in New York, but in PA and Ohio where the Orange are actually far more active and engaging with coaches and fans that also engage with the MAC. Furthermore, the Orange only have near term scheduling openings in 2024, with their future opponent openings not widely coming until 2027. The later years lines up better with the Pegulas plans anyways; any brand new stadium will take years to build, and Buffalo doesn’t seem all that interested in trying to fill an NFL sized stadium week after week and giving up their more intimate venue on campus.
That said, the Orange should not be removed from this conversation. While the MetLife games were a bit of a mess due to the Orange’s on field results, getting into NYC/NJ alumni markets were a great way to get exposure to those fans and donors on a regular basis. A long term series in Buffalo is a much easier sell to existing season ticket holders, and would allow the Orange to mix up opponents between the Penn State types that don’t readily want to come to the Dome, and the more evenly matched P5 teams that may end up more frequently scheduled in the ACC/Big 10/Pac-12 alliance.
In reality, this only works is fans would go to the games. With the Orange sitting around a steady 20-25K per game at home, selling at minimum 40K in Buffalo may be a bit of a stretch for the Pegula group to buy into. So what says you: would you go to a regular game in Buffalo? Let us know in the comments.