Bills fans could benefit from proposed NFL policy change; Bills reviewing policy

Jul 2, 2012

Blackouts may be a thing of the past for television-viewing fans of the Buffalo Bills. A local congressman and two fan groups applauded the news in front of Ralph Wilson Stadium Monday.

The Wall Street Journal reports that team owners have agreed that games could be televised in local markets if only 85-percent of the seats are filled.

If the proposal had been in place last season, only one home game, the Bills' Christmas Eve matchup with the Denver Broncos, would have been blacked out.  Three games at Ralph Wilson Stadium were not broadcast locally because the team had not sold 100 percent of available tickets by the league-mandated deadline.  

Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins, who has been part of the fight to change the rules, was joined by two local fan groups outside of Ralph Wilson Stadium Monday afternoon.

"I'm sure that they're studying it. Our hope is that the Bills would embrace this as an opportunity," Higgins said.

Higgins says economics of the NFL have changed since the 36-year-old rule was established.

"Game day receipts were a major driver of revenues 10, 20, 30 years ago. Today it's television and media deals," Higgins said.

Under the current rules, the Bills are required to sell 73,000 seats. The new rule would lower that amount to about 62,000. Teams would have the final say on the blackout rule. 

WBFO & AM-970 News reached out to the Bills for comment.  Senior vice president of communications Scott Berchtold issued a short written statement saying they are "reviewing it and will comment at the appropriate time". 

In January the FCC decided it was time to take public comment on the rule.   Matt Sabuda, president of Buffalo Fan Alliance, says Bills fans made the most noise over the blackout rule.

"Without Bills fans being so vocal and speaking up about this, I'm convinced this rule change wouldn't have happened," Sabuda said.