Busy offseason for Bills boosts fan interest - Olean Times Herald: Editorial - Busy offseason for Bills boosts fan interest: Editorial

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Busy offseason for Bills boosts fan interest

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Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 12:22 pm

Some random notes on the Bills, who have seemingly done no wrong this offseason ... hopefully not even with the signing of Vince Young to be backup quarterback:

ONE OF the truest indications of fan enthusiasm is ticket sales, and a weekend announcement by the Bills’ marketing department  was significant.

The team’s first two home games are sellouts: Sept. 16 against Kansas City and Sept. 30 versus New England.

Clearly, there’s an asterisk on the word “sellout” as the Bills hold back a number of seats for those who want to buy season tickets, which will be available through Buffalo’s preseason home opener against the Washington Redskins, Thurs., Aug.9.

SPEAKING of season tickets, the Bills’ numbers are on the rebound ... partially because there was no price increase and, oh yeah, there was that signing of defensive end Mario Williams, merely the most sought-after free agent this past offseason, and pass-rush specialist Mark Anderson days later.

Buffalo’s season-ticket count went from 56,011 — second highest in franchise history — in 2008 to 37,555 last season, the lowest in 10 years.

In fairness, 2011’s total, 6,500 fewer than the previous season, was certainly impacted by the lockout, which ate up a good portion of the selling period.

This year, Bills’ Chief Executive Officer Russ Brandon reported that season ticket renewals were coming in at the fastest pace since 1997.

In addition, he said new orders were up over 4,300,  some 40 percent of them within days of Williams’ signing.

THOSE NUMBERS are encouraging as the Bills — unless circumstances change it — are looking at the most unappealing home slate in years.

The best draws are the Patriots, already one of two sellouts, and the Jets, whose Dec. 30 regular-season finale appearance will have its attendance dictated by the standings and the weather.

The Bills’ other four home games — they play the Seahawks , Dec. 16 in Toronto — are Tennessee (Oct. 21), Miami (Thurs., Nov. 15), Jacksonville (Dec. 2) and St. Louis (Dec. 9)

What’s impressive about the quick sellouts of the Kansas City and New England games is that all the purchases were made by season ticket holders who were given first shot at individual game tickets and those two were snapped up between Wednesday and Saturday.

Individual-game group sales begin on June 9 and single-game sales to the general public commence July 10.

And there was some good news as it relates to the latter. The former $40 tickets in the Rockpile were reduced to $25 — a move so popular they’re already sold out — while in the Family Corner, prices have been cut by $10 to $30.

ONE OF the most annoying aspects of the NFL has been virtually legislated out of existence with the incorporation of a rookie salary cap.

It appears that holdouts by draftees have become past tense.

A full two months before the opening of training camp, eight of Buffalo’s nine draft picks are under contract. The only unsigned choice is third-rounder, T.J. Graham the wide receiver from North Carolina State and there’s no reason to think his signing will be any real problem.

After the Bills’ signed their top choice, South Carolina cornerback Stefon Gilmore, coach Chan Gailey allowed, “It’s great not having a major threat (of a holdout).  I guess there’s still a minor threat of a holdout (Graham) but there’s not a major threat of it.

“You can sort of depend on things a little bit more than you could have in the past.”

(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, van be reached at cpollock@olkeantimesherald.com)

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