For Bills fans the last six months have been pretty exciting when it comes to the team's immediate and long term future. The transition to the Pegula ownership last October, the hiring of Rex Ryan and a host of player acquisitions, headlined by the trade to acquire RB LeSean McCoy, have all created a buzz in Buffalo the level of which has not been seen in some time. That fan excitement is wholly evident in the Bills season ticket base this offseason, which has a chance to eclipse all previous totals.
With March almost over the Bills' current season ticket total sits at better than 52-thousand, already up 5,000 from the 2014 season ticket total (47,482). With season ticket renewals rates at 95 percent and new season ticket sales pacing significantly higher than last year at this time, the Bills have a chance to break the franchise record for season ticket sales set back in 1992 (57,132).
"Obviously with where we are right now at better than 52-thousand the franchise record is certainly within our sights," said team President Russ Brandon. "There is a lot of work left to be done. We certainly have points coming up here with the draft, players coming back for OTAs and minicamps and the schedule release, which will be factors when fans consider their choices. We obviously have a great bundle of benefits that come with purchasing season tickets, starting with price and value so we're certainly going to take a run at it."
While there are a number of factors that have contributed to the jump in season ticket sales over the last several months it would be hard to argue that the Pegula ownership transition provided the greatest impact.
"Going back to when the Pegulas bought the franchise back in early October the collective anvil that has been on the back of this community basically fell into Lake Erie," Brandon said of the persistent worry that the team would relocate. "The foundation of where we stand right now is a byproduct of that. The loyalty and the commitment that they have shown to our region, fans are returning that in kind."
And that fan loyalty is stretching beyond regular season tickets. Club seat and suite sales are also seeing sharp increases from that of the last several years.
"To be at 95 percent (season ticket) renewal is a high water mark for us. To be pacing at more than 200 percent in new season ticket sales is a high water mark," said Brandon. "In club seat sales we're double where we were a year ago. Suite sales we should be in a sold out position as well with a potential waiting list, so all the business arrows are up, but we all know it's about what happens on Sundays and that's what the football department is focused on."
Naturally the hiring of new head coach Rex Ryan has helped to provide a spike in ticket sales this offseason as well as the player trades and signings in late February and early March. However, the 2015 campaign got off to a great start even before that as an overwhelming number of season ticket members chose to apply the refund they received for last year's relocated Snow-vember game toward their 2015 season tickets.
Buffalo's attractive home schedule, which will include games against Indianapolis with Andrew Luck, Houston with J.J. Watt and Dallas with Tony Romo also played a role. A host of season ticket member benefits like discounts for parking and the Bills Store, exclusive NFL Red Zone access on your smart phone and early access to purchase individual game tickets among other perks has Bills fans eager to be on hand for the full home schedule.
"The season ticket benefits and where our value is with an average season ticket price of $64, which is very affordable, along with the bundle of rewards that we offer our season ticket members are all contributing factors to where we are today," said Brandon.