Amherst Chamber of CommerceAmherst Chamber of Commerce

 Professional and Collegiate Football 

Why Should We Care?


Everywhere you go today, somebody is talking about the future ownership of the Buffalo Bills. Once everyone has weighed in on whom that should or will be, they go on to debate the value of building a new stadium. And, if you ask 100 people for their opinion, you will get 100 different answers. 


In the spirit of full disclosure, I must state that I am a huge football fan. But beyond that, I firmly believe that the potential loss of the Buffalo Bills in Western New York borders on being tragic. I know that economists say professional football teams have little economic impact, but I challenge that finding. While many taxpayers are against a team subsidy - and I understand that struggling families are not amenable to subsidizing millionaire owners and highly paid players - the alternative would result in negative repercussions for our region. 


Buffalo is in the national news repeatedly with reports on the team. At least six times a year, beautiful shots of our town and region are viewed by out of town audiences, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Metropolitan areas across the country pay millions of dollars for this type of coverage. Major national and international hospitality franchises dedicate hundreds of thousands of dollars locating in our region because of our major leagues sports opportunities. Buffalo Bills Alumni including greats from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s have remained in the region, raising millions of dollars that support our local charities. These are all factors economists do not always take into account when looking at the financial viability of supporting a team. But, more than that is the emotional ties we have to the team. 


While the heartache of losing four consecutive Super Bowls still causes me nightmares, the pleasure of following the draft, getting excited about the year as we see training camp evolve and opening day compensates for it. Whether you are a football fan or not, you have to acknowledge that the workplace is a much nicer place to be on a Monday after a Bills win. We may be the city that lost four Super Bowls, but let's not be the city that lost our team!


Now on to University at Buffalo football - Go, Bulls! Did you go to a UB football game last year? If not, you are missing out on a great time. Danny White, UB Athletic Director, has made games a big happening. As you get out of your car, you can hear the band, smell the food and be a part of thousands of people heading to the stadium. In addition to the hospitality tents, the face painting and family activities, we are enjoying competitive games against good teams. 


Khalil Mack, the Bulls linebacker was the fifth overall pick in this springs NFL draft and will be playing for the Oakland Raiders this upcoming season. Five other players from the 2013 Bulls roster are currently at NFL training camps. I think you will agree that the UB football program is making strides athletically but they also have an impact on our local economy. 


According to a recent study, college football teams contribute positively to a host's local economy. Successful sports programs, especially football, enable universities to attract more and better qualified undergraduate applicants. Bowl appearances increase alumni donations, and the UB Bulls were in a bowl game last year. Let's not forget the multiplier effect - visiting teams also patronize our hotels, eat food in our restaurants, shop in our stores - providing increased tax revenue and spiked sales for our local retailers. 


At the end of the day, supporting UB football means supporting more resources for our wonderful university, increasing the prosperity for local businesses and opportunities for family fun days and corporate entertaining in addition to great football.


I hope that whether you are a football fan or not, my comments have made you think a little about the value of these teams to our region. 


Feel free to contact me at cdipirro@amherst.org with any questions or comments.

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