Bon Jovi Live From Canada: The Definitive Anthology

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Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar Jonathan McLeod
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    says:

    I recall hearing a few years ago that there might not actually be a need to “move” the Bills to Toronto. The argument being that Toronto is considered part of the Bills’ market (as demonstrated by playing regular season home games there), so moving to a Toronto stadium wouldn’t be a relocation. It’s like how San Fran will be playing in Santa Clara, New England went to Foxboro, the Giants and Jets play in NJ, the Lions play in Pontiac, etc.

    Personally, I’d rather they stay in Buffalo (for the sake of Buffalo and for the sake of the rest of us, a Toronto NFL team would be insufferable), but I worry they could make a move without any official approval.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Jonathan McLeod
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      says:

      There’s possibly something to this notion, at least as far as the NFL is concerned. I would not in the least be surprised to hear that Jerry Jones & Co. would push this argument to get a team in Toronto, which would result in the league waiving any relocation fees and which would also mean that the other owners would not have a right to vote to block the relocation. Then again, Roger Goodell is originally from upstate NY, so maybe he’d force a vote (more likely, though, he’d listen to the owners’ wallets).

      That’s why the lease is so important (obviously along with any instructions Ralph Wilson gave to his trustees) – having read the part of the agreement that’s relevant, it requires the Bills play all their home games in Erie County specifically, except for the one regular season game a year that can be played as part of the now-defunct Toronto Series, and essentially defines intent to relocate as any intention to move the team outside of Erie County.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    Bon Jovi’s Canadian alliance will not end well.

    How will it end? With Bon Jovi shooting mass drivers at Toronto?Report

  3. Avatar James Hanley
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    says:

    I hate to hit you where it really hurts, Mark, but are the Bills viable in Buffalo? The area’s not likely to grow again, or become the economic powerhouse it briefly was. The NFL has 32 teams, and Buffalo is the 47th largest metro area in the country. They rank far down the list of NFL teams in attendance (although the numbers are impressive in relation to their market size–their fans are among the most dedicated, but there just aren’t enough people around to have enough of those dedicated fans, right?). And all that’s going to affect their ability to be competitive.

    If fans are demanding that the team be kept around as a public service, maybe the thing to do is condemn the team and create a public trust. Or follow the Green Bay model.

    I now accept that you will hate me with a burning passion for all eternity.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      maybe the thing to do is condemn the team

      Or at least criticize it heavily.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      Another publicly held team might not be a bad move. I mean, you don’t see people talking about trying to move* the Packers out of Green Bay, despite the fact that Green Bay is, well, it isn’t the armpit of the state, but it is that annoying web where the thumb meets the hand.

      *Most likely because anyone who does talk about moving the team out of Green Bay will soon find themselves surrounded by large men in green & gold apparel who will proceed to strip said person naked & toss them into Lake Michigan, in January, with a stern mention that such talk is decidedly “not funny”.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      There’s a big difference between “viable” and “as profitable as other teams.” The Bills actually make a pretty decent profit, largely because of revenue sharing admittedly, but even without that, I think they still do reasonably well. Not as profitable as the big teams, to be sure, but still profitable. As long as they get an owner who wants to keep them in Buffalo and just wants them to break even, they’ll be competitive. The front-runner to get them right now is exactly that sort of person (it helps that he also would be one of the five or six wealthiest NFL owners); he owns the Sabres already and when asked whether he was buying the Sabres as an investment or as a fan, responded by saying “if I wanted to make an investment, I’d drill a well,” or something to that effect.

      Yes, they’re only 19th in attendance (which is, as you point out, well ahead of where their market size would put them), but when you consider that they haven’t been to the playoffs this millennium (seriously), that they are 19th in attendance is nothing short of astounding.

      Additionally, they’ve done an excellent job of regionalizing despite how terrible they’ve been on the field. The result of that is that they now pull around a third of their gameday fans from the Rochester, NY and Hamilton, ON metro areas. If you add those metro areas to the equation, then that 47th largest metro area in the country moves up the rankings a fair amount – just adding the Rochester Metro would put it in the top 30 metro areas in the country.

      I’m also not sure whether those numbers include fans from Syracuse or who are what I call “diaspora” fans like me. If not, it may be that as many as 40-45% of gameday fans are coming from outside the Buffalo metro area. They’ve also (by which I mean “Russ Brandon”) done an outstanding job regionalizing their sponsorships; I don’t know the numbers, but I think an even bigger chunk of their sponsors come out of the Rochester area.

      On top of that, the Buffalo-Niagara metro may have finally stopped its decline – http://news.wbfo.org/post/buffalo-niagara-population-rise

      (Emphasis on may).

      Obviously metro area size matters a lot, but a passionate fan base can make up for quite a bit, and an uncaring fan base can cause quite a few problems even in a fairly large market. Miami, for instance, is the 8th largest metro area, has made the playoffs in somewhat recent memory, and was in the playoff hunt last year until late in the season, yet had a lower per-game attendance than the Bills. And, well, there’s a reason there hasn’t been a football team in LA in 20 years. It’s not at all clear to me that the Bills – or the NFL as a whole – would be more profitable if the Bills moved to Toronto or LA. They’d be giving up entirely on a market that, while small, consistently puts butts in the seats and in which television ratings are surprisingly high (http://blogs.buffalobills.com/2014/03/24/bills-11th-in-tv-ratings-in-nfl/) and exchanging that for a bigger market that is unlikely to consistently get butts in the seats, in which television ratings are likely to be comparatively weak, and where the cost of doing business is likely to be a lot higher.

      It would still be ideal for there to be some sort of public ownership of the team a la the Packers, but unfortunately NFL rules prohibit that – the Packers were grandfathered in when the rule was created. Other than the Packers, all NFL teams are required to have private ownership, and one owner needs to own at least 30% of the team.

      However, there is a fan group that has created an investment fund to keep the Bills in WNY; essentially, the fund would provide a prospective owner looking to keep the Bills in Buffalo with a loan for the fund amount that would only need to be repaid if the team moved. They’ve got a good number of heavy hitters participating. That could be used to give a local owner a leg up in a bidding war. I don’t know how much is in the fund, though – it just started last year – but they were looking to get together $100 million.

      As it turns out, that’s just a drop in the bucket though, since it looks like the sale price is going to be north of $1 billion.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        it looks like the sale price is going to be north of $1 billion.

        Well, that demonstrates that it’s valuable somewhere.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        Well, someone has to be 19th in attendance, right?

        I say let the team’s owner’s do what they will, provided they use all their own funds.

        Wait, that might be the craziest idea yet…Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Mark Thompson
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        If you add those metro areas to the equation, then that 47th largest metro area in the country moves up the rankings a fair amount – just adding the Rochester Metro would put it in the top 30 metro areas in the country.

        Does that still hold if you apply the same treatment to the other metro areas? For example, letting Denver include out to a comparable radius (~65 miles) picks up at least another million people, because it includes the Colorado Springs area to the south and Fort Collins to the north — both of which are clearly in the Broncos fan base.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        Letting San Diego include Tijuana?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Mark Thompson
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        UTEP and Conference USA try to include Juarez in their footprint.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        @mark-thompson

        [The Bills] haven’t been to the playoffs this millennium

        For those who don’t remember, the last time the Bills played in a playoff game was the game commonly known as the Music City Miracle. The last time they won the AFC East was 1995. This is the longest current third-longest drought in the NFL without winning a division title.

        one owner needs to own at least 30% of the team

        This is true as long as that owner has 100% of the voting rights. Otherwise, someone has to own at least 51%. In other words, the NFL requires that someone be HNIC when it comes to the team. The only teams that don’t meet this requirement are the Packers and the Giants. With the Giants, John Mara and his family own 50% and Steve Tisch and his family own the other 50%. They both have been grandfathered in.

        @michael-cain

        Does that still hold if you apply the same treatment to the other metro areas?

        You would to include everybody’s secondary markets in order to make a fair comparison. For the Denver Broncos, Fort Collins is already part of the primary Denver market, and Colorado Springs could be added a secondary market. For the Bills, I would include Rochester as well as half of Syracuse and Binghamton.

        If I get a chance this weekend I will calculate the market sizes including the secondary markets. Some teams are more regional than others. The Broncos are probably the most regional team; they claim most of the Mountain Time Zone with the exception of Arizona. The least regional team is the New York Jets, no one outside of the NYC market cares about them, and even within the NYC market they are probably only the most popular team in about 4 counties.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        @will-truman

        Now I’m picturing a UTEP stadium hard on the border with an entrance just for the not-accessible-to-the-rest-of-the-stadium Mexican seating section.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        @michael-cain

        Buffalo is currently ranks 31st in primary market size (0.64 MM), ahead of only Green Bay (0.45).

        If you add the secondary markets of Rochester, and half of Syracuse and Binghamton, Buffalo rises to 27th (1.29), surpassing New Orleans (0.65), Kansas City (0.94), Indianapolis (1.10), and Pittsburgh (1.18).

        To be fair though, I added the following secondary markets for those teams:
        Green Bay (1.37): Milwaukee
        New Orleans (1.46): Mobile (1/2), Shreveport (1/2), Baton Rouge
        Kansas City (1.40): Wichita
        Indianapolis (1.32): Louisville (1/3)
        Pittsburgh (1.42): Harrisburg (1/3)

        This drops Buffalo down to last. However, this does not include any people from Canada, so this might cause Buffalo to rise in the rankings.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        @scarletnumbers
        My only quibble would be KC secondary markets. If you use Binghamton as the cut-off for distance and size, you would need to add Omaha and Lincoln, NE (Husker fans have to watch something on Sunday) and Topeka, KS. If I understand your numbers right, that would add another 0.88 to KC. My sister lived outside Omaha for years and knew a fair number of people who made the trek down to KC for Chiefs games from time to time.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        @michael-cain

        I only included Wichita for Kansas City because that was its biggest secondary market and it was enough to put it on top of Buffalo.

        I have no problem with giving Lincoln (0.28) and Topeka (0.18) to the Chiefs, but I don’t think it would be fair to give them Omaha (0.42), since Omaha isn’t really exclusively Chiefs territory. I would split Omaha 4 ways, between the Chiefs, Bears, Packers, and Vikings. So, let’s give the Chiefs 0.11 from Omaha. That would give them a total of 1.97MM.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Maybe Wilson’s heirs could swap teams with Robert Kraft and then move the Patriots to Los Angeles.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    Out of curiosity:

    How much of a blow would it be to the Western New York economy if the Bills did move to Canada or somewhere else? Could it slump the region even further into economic decline?

    My opinion is not to really care to being somewhat annoyed at how hypervocal people get about local sports but I’ve never been a sports guy. Pro sports are a business that weirdly come to far into the local identity for a variety reasons but people would be best to know that they are a business first.

    Now what is interesting to me here is about how the sports-identity complex changes politics potentially. I could be wrong but I’ve always associated you as being a pretty free market kind of day and it seems like your point to James is that the new owners should be content with being profitable enough instead of maximizing profit.

    Apologies if I am incorrectly putting you in the more libertarian camp at LGM incorrectly.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      Los Angeles lost the Raiders and the Rams in the same year. We hardly noticed, and aren’t particularly anxious to have either of them back. Houston lost the Oilers after 1996 (well, practically no one showed up to any home games in ’96 since the move to Tennessee had been announced and they had sold Steve McNair’s contract to Minnesota) and it doesn’t seem like it affected Houston in the least. Seattle lost the SuperSonics, again with no appreciable economic impact so far as I can tell. I was told by my grandfather that when the Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta, the property values in the neighborhoods around the stadium fell, but then again my grandfather had encouraged his friend to sell his house in that neighborhood when Hank Aaron bought a house down the street (this absolutely broke my nine-year-old heart when my grandfather told me this when I was nine; the man was Hank fishing Aaron and how cool would it have been to have been his neighbor! But, you see, he was black.) and my grandfather was the kind of guy for whom everything caused property values to decline. (Seriously, grandpa? The guy who broke the home run record triggered white flight all up and down Blue Mound Road? Oh, the shame of it all.)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko
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        Burt, do you have any insight into why no other teams have moved to LA since then? It seems like a gold mine, or at least the sort of huge market NFL owners would consider a gold mine, and surely there are enough cities in the area dumb enough to put up money for a stadium to get a lucrative bidding war started.

        (By the way, the Milwaukee Braves figure significantly in the next (1950s) installment of World Series history. )Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        The NFL desperately wanted to put in Los Angeles the team that ended up in Houston (to even out the hasty expansion that put a team back in Cleveland). They dragged their feet and extended the deadline in perpetuity to give LA the chance to put together a stadium proposal. They didn’t, and Houston had one ready.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko
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        Aaron was no Eddie Matthews.

        Actually, they’re more comparable that you might think. According to Baseball Reference, Aaron was the 2nd best right fielder in history, and Matthews the 2nd best third baseman. Aaron was a great outfielder, where Matthews was slightly above average at third, but given the difference in difficulty between the two positions, Matthews had far more defensive value. The biggest difference between them is longevity: Matthews was only a great player through age 33, at which point he’d hit 477 HRs (of his total 512), and Aaron 481 , but Aaron stayed amazing until he was 39, and wound up hitting another 274 of them.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        @mike-schilling

        Eddie Matthews was also the first SI cover boy 70 years ago.

        He also the only one to play for the Boston Braves, Milwaukee Braves, and Atlanta Braves.

        #TheMoreYouKnowReport

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        You should do some bar bets with the “all three cities” trivia. I would have put money on Warren Spahn.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        @mike-schilling

        Alas, Spahn’s last major league game occured in 1965, when he played for the Giants. It was also the Braves last year in Milwaukee.

        Two more Spahn facts:

        1) He was the only player to have his number retired by the Milwaukee Braves.

        2) He once said of Casey Stengel, “I’m probably the only guy who played for Casey before and after he was a genius”.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko
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        I remember his being with the Giants, but not which year it was.

        Spahn was a funny man. He gave up Willie Mays’s first hit (a homerun), and some years afterwards apologized to the rest of the league for the monster he’d created.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      “My opinion is not to really care to being somewhat annoyed at how hypervocal people get about local sports but I’ve never been a sports guy.”

      Just think about your advocacy for the arts…Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      The economic impact is a matter of some debate: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/money/business/2014/03/27/losing-buffalo-bills-hurt-local-business/6979529/

      The bigger impact would be emotional – the region doesn’t have much else that puts them on the map, and the team is a major source of pride and a huge and highly visible part of the community. And that last bit is the big thing – that the team is an integral part of the community. I’ve not been anywhere else where a sports team was so much viewed as part of the community (I imagine Green Bay would fit the bill).

      While I certainly think of myself as a libertarian, I’m (a) not a hardline libertarian, and (b) generally view myself as a left-libertarian. The last one of those ideology tests I took actually classified me as a solid liberal, which was kind of weird.

      Anyhow, I don’t think there’s anything unlibertarian with recognizing that there are values other than dollars and cents, particularly when discussing businesses that by their nature have to be closely held (and thus owe no fiduciary duties to shareholders). I’m not asking that a government entity act to prevent the Bills from moving (other than enforcing the lease agreement, but expecting that contracts will be enforced is hardly unlibertarian). There’s a difference between thinking that someone should place a value on something other than profit and thinking that they should be forced to value something other than profit.

      If the Bills are sold to someone who wants to move them once the lease is up, I won’t be asking a government entity to stop them from moving, though I might support efforts to appeal to their conscience, and would certainly support efforts to organize a group that would buy them and keep them in WNY. And if that fails, while I may or may not boycott products made by the new owner’s business, I certainly will not support harassing or protesting LA or Toronto fans.

      What really irks me here, though, is Bon Jovi’s rank hypocrisy. I’d be a lot less annoyed if he was just a wealthy executive or venture capitalist looking to move the team to make a bigger profit, or if he was a Hollywood film executive who just wanted a team in LA to root for.

      But he’s not. He’s a dude from New Jersey with no connections to Toronto other than the fact that he has two even wealthier friends from there who are willing to back his bid as long as he moves the team to Toronto. He’s not looking to move it there because he thinks it would be more profitable there (and the evidence is pretty weak that it would be). He’s looking to move it there because he wants to join an exclusive club, and the only way he can get the money to join that club is if he fronts a group that will move the team to Toronto.

      But I’d be able to at least respect even that if it weren’t for one other key factor: this is a man who has made hundreds of millions of dollars – some small part of it my own childhood allowance money – proclaiming certain values like community and hometown loyalty (“Who Says You Can’t Go Home?”), touting the trials and tribulations of everyday joes (“Livin’ on Prayer”), and generally marketing himself as someone who “gets” the type of people that make up the majority of the Bills’ fan base. Yet here he is, trying to deprive an awful lot of those people of a significant part of their community for no reason other than his desire to join a club.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        It does seem to affect a city’s stature whether they have a team or not. If asked, I’d bet 90% of people would guess that Jacksonville is a lager city than Virginia Beach or Raleigh-Durham, and the Jaguars would be a significant part of the reason why. San Jose has more people than Oakland or San Francisco, but most people wouldn’t know it.

        A city the size of Los Angeles or Houston may not need it, and especially when the city has other professional teams as LA and Houston did when football left. It might not affect Buffalo as much because they did have the team for long enough (and they have the hockey team, if hockey counts), I’m not sure. But I am actually coming around to the idea that it can actually generate prestige for a city.Report

  6. Avatar Roger Ferguson
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    says:

    Bon Jovi ownership is difficult to contemplate and would result in a painfully strained relationship. Trump ownership is unthinkable and would result in divorce.Report

  7. Avatar j r
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    says:

    It’s hard to understate (or for an outsider to really understand) the psychological devastation the loss of the Bills would have on the region…

    This is true; however, it is also hard to understate the psychological devastation that having the Bills in Buffalo has had on the region.Report

  8. Avatar James Hanley
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    says:

    Here’s the question that’s really confusing me, Mark. Buffalo has a hockey team, so why would they care if they had a football team or not?Report

  9. Avatar ScarletNumbers
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    says:

    I am no fan of Bon Jovi. Their popular songs have an annoying sameness about them. However, to refer to JBJ as “mediocre” is incorrect by any objective measure.

    They made an excellent transition from 80’s hair band to mainstream popularity since then. Look at all of the similar bands that are on the wayside.

    For the crime of burning a Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen CD, the punishment would be banishment to godforsaken Orange County. @kazzy 😉Report

  10. Avatar Goldenhawk99
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    says:

    Hello all,

    Long time lurker, first time commenter, life-long resident of Southern Ontario, one-time rabid Bills fan.

    For all the talk of the Bills relocating, the one key point that seems to be lost is that a lot of people in Toronto would likely say “we don’t want’em”. The Bills have played a series of preseason and regular season games here over the last few years, and they have had to cut prices to have anything close to a sellout, even in a stadium that seats a good 10,000 or so fewer seats than a typical NFL park. The team would need a new stadium to play in, and I assure you the voters here are in no mood to approve taxpayer concessions for a project like that.

    Now, I dispute the assertion that Toronto “doesn’t really even have many people who give a hoot about American football”, because that is completely incorrect. What it does have is many people who no longer give a hoot about the Bills. This is a combination of the Bills being awful for the last decade or so, and the fact that we are not subject to blackout rules and local restrictions, so the average cable or satellite subscriber can watch games from all over the NFL now. Plenty of fantasy football pools, and sports media coverage, and merchandise sales result from that.

    There are many rabid NFL fans in Southern Ontario, as you can see from the number of Patriot, and Giant, and Steeler, and Bronco, and Niner and “insertlastyearsSuperBowlwinner” jerseys you see at the sports bars. It’s just sufficiently diffused that a unified allegiance to a team would be hard to forge. You’d have better luck with an expansion franchise in Toronto than the relocation of a team that many here have moved on from and does not seem to be anywhere near contention.Report

  11. Avatar ScarletNumbers
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    says:

    The team would need a new stadium to play in

    As a reminder to others, SkyDome is only 25 years old.

    Then again, the Georgia Dome is only 21 years old and is in the process of being replaced.

    You’d have better luck with an expansion franchise in Toronto than the relocation of a team that many here have moved on from and does not seem to be anywhere near contention.

    Yes, but I don’t see the NFL moving off of 32 teams any time soon. In spite of what Huey Lewis said, there is no greater power than a power of 2.Report

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