An effort to keep the Bills in Buffalo has gained the support of some former players, including Hall of Fame wide receiver Andre Reed and kicker Steve Christie. They've joined the advisory board of the Buffalo Fan Alliance in an effort that allows fans to contribute to a fund that would lend to new ownership.
Fan Alliance Director Matt Sabuda says the goal is to raise up to $170 million from Bills fans to loan at zero percent interest to a new owner. He says a recent study shows that number to be viable.
"It's not a silver bullet," Sabuda tells WBFO News. "But what it can be is just one piece to the puzzle to help make the team more viable here. We're certainly still going to have to have a committed owner, we're going to have to have committed local political leadership. But this could make it easier. This could make the Buffalo market a lot more attractive to do NFL business."
Sabuda says the annual savings would be between $8-14 million, about double the team's current luxury box income. He says a non-relocation agreement would be included in the no-interest loan.
Subuda says one significant factor in the fundraising effort is that the Bills have one of the biggest expatriate fan bases in the nation.
"One of our weaknesses in Buffalo is so many people have left Buffalo over the years, but for the sake of this fund that actually becomes a positive because these are people who aren't paying property taxes locally to help support the team here. These are people who want to do that. This gives them a real tangible effort to contribute some money back to Western New York to lay a foundation to protect the team," Sabuda says.
The 14-member advisory board also includes former Canisius High School and New York Giants wide receiver Phil McKonkey, NBC News correspondent Luke Russert and business leaders from western New York and southern Ontario.
Other members of the advisory board include, Joe Klein, CEO of Klein Steel Services Inc., of Rochester; Jason Knight Ph.D., an assistant professor of geography and planning at SUNY Buffalo State College; Steve Cohen, CEO of Salit Steel of Niagara Falls, ON; Joseph Hanna, an attorney with the Buffalo law firm Goldberg Segalla; Rick Cohen, Goldberg Segalla’s managing principal; Diane Tiveron, managing principal at Buffalo law firm HoganWillig; Corey Hogan, HoganWillig founding partner; Jimmy Goldsmith, sports agent and CEO of B.I.G., a sports management agency in Stowe, VT; Carl Forti, a Buffalo native and founder of the Black Rock Group, of Alexandria, VA, and Mike Dubke, founding partner at Black Rock and also a Western New York native.