Bills launch blitz to lift December ticket sales

November 9, 2011 Updated Nov 9, 2011 at 9:33 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink, Buffalo Business First Reporter

November 9, 2011 Updated Nov 9, 2011 at 9:33 AM EDT

With an inventory of 57,000 seats to sell for three home games in December, the Buffalo Bills have put together a special marketing package to entice fans for the trio of games at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Dubbed "December Charge," the deal allows fans who purchase tickets for all three games to receive a discounted rate of 12.5 percent - roughly the same discounted rate season ticket holders pay for their tickets. The deal only applies to tickets that are bought for the all three December home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The games are on Dec. 4 vs. the Tennessee Titans, Dec. 18 vs. the Miami Dolphins and Dec. 24 against the Denver Broncos.

An estimated 16,000 tickets remain for each of the games against the Titans and Dolphins and 25,000 remain for the Christmas Eve contest against the Broncos. All games are slated to start at 1 p.m.

People who buy the "December Charge" package also receive a 2011 team yearbook.

For example: Under the terms of the "December Charge" package a $72 seat has been reduced in price to $63, thus saving the ticket buyer $27 if he or she were to purchase individual tickets for all three games.

This season marks the first time since 1995 that the Bills have played three home games in the month of December and in 1995, one of those games was a playoff contest against the Miami Dolphins.

"We are in a volume business and in this case, we have a lot of inventory to move," said Russ Brandon, Bills chief executive officer. "Our focus right now, besides winning games, is to try and get this building sold out.

Brandon said the discounted ticket package was created in the past few weeks after it became apparent the three December games have not yet caught the attention of the ticket-buying public.

The Bills have a 5-3 record and credit the loud, if not boisterous home crowd for its early season wins over the New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles.

"The energy level in this building for those games was unbelievable," Brandon said. "We want to make this a great advantage for the Bills to be playing in this building in December."

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick agrees that a loud Ralph Wilson Stadium could make a difference as the team marches towards its first playoff slot since the 1999 season.

He added a raucous and full stadium is viewed as a huge plus by the players.

"It has been a huge difference maker for us," Fitzpatrick said, "As a player, you really can't express how much of a difference it really does make."

The Bills' December ticket push is up against a still weak economy and heavy competition for the disposable income dollar.

Brandon admits those conditions are constants for the Bills organization. Still during the past decade, the team has sold out 83.25 percent of its home games compared with the 61 percent it sold out in 1990s when it was middle of a four Super Bowl run. The Orchard Park stadium seats just over 73,000.

Since 2000, the team has sold out 60 percent of its December home games, although Brandon conceded some were sold out when corporate sponsors or team owner Ralph Wilson bought the few remaining tickets. For a Dec. 26 game last season against the Patriots, local restaurateur Russell Salvatore bought approximately 5,000 remaining tickets to ensure a sell out and lift the local TV blackout.

Games that are sold out 72 hours in advance of kick off are shown on local TV, under NFL rules.

Brandon said tickets remain for all three games in various portions of the lower bowl, including the end zone area as well as the upper deck.

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