SBJ/November 16 - 22, 1998/No Topic Name

Flutie's rebirth revives club-seat sales

The reincarnation of quarterback Doug Flutie as an NFL quarterback is paying off handsomely for the Buffalo Bills. Since Flutie took over as starting quarterback, the team has increased its weekly sales of club seats and luxury boxes tenfold.

Last year, Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. reached a new deal with the state of New York and Erie County that keeps the Bills in Buffalo until 2012 — unless the Bills fail to sell $11 million from the sale of 76 new luxury suites and 7,800 club seats.

If fans don't cough up the $11 million in premium seating by Dec. 1, Wilson will have the option of moving the team.

Until the Flutie phenomenon began last month, sales of club seats were sluggish, averaging 40 to 50 a week.

In the past three weeks, in which Flutie led the Bills to two wins and a loss, club-seat sales have soared to 500 a week, or 80 per day, pushing the Bills to $10 million in sales.

"We just passed the $10 million figure as of Monday [Nov. 9], and it's exactly where we want to be," said Bills assistant general manager Bill Munson. "There is no question that Flutiemania or whatever you want to call it has helped tremendously."

The club seats cost $400 to $800 each, with an average sale price of $657. The team has sold nearly 5,000 of the club seats, 1,000 of which will be indoors, and all but seven of the 76 new luxury boxes, which cost $17,000 to $69,000. The average sale price of the luxury boxes is $40,600, Munson said.

"If you look at what's happened in the past five weeks, it really has been incredible," he said. "Until Flutie, club-seat sales were slow, but if we sell 100 club seats a day we'll reach our goal of $11 million by Dec. 1."

Even if Buffalo fans add $11 million to the team's revenue, the Bills could still choose to leave the city.

Under the agreement, Wilson has the option to leave Buffalo after the 2004 season with a buyout fee beginning at $20 million and falling to $2 million by 2012.

Once the team secures the $11 million, it will begin a $62 million renovation of Rich Stadium that will add the suites and club boxes but reduce seating capacity to 75,000 from 80,000. Construction is expected to be completed by the beginning of next season.

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Buffalo Bills, NFL

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