Andrew Zimbalist, sports economist at Smith College, put it this way: Spending a few hundred dollars at a fancy restaurant in Buffalo probably affects the economy of Western New York more directly than spending the same amount at a Bills. At the restaurant, he explained, that money would benefit servers, cooks and the owner.
“It’s much more likely that it would stay in Buffalo and be recycled and spent again in Buffalo,” he said.
Money spent at an NFL game also recirculates, but largely among millionaire players and billionaire owners who spend relatively little of that money locally.
While NFL players earn high six-figure and, often, seven-figure salaries, most of their take home pay is not spent or invested in Western New York, and many of them don’t live here year round. Like lawyers, doctors, accountants and business owners, they can drive a more luxurious car or buy a nicer house than most people. But they probably aren’t buying more groceries, and most aren’t starting businesses or employing people either.
The owners share — with each other — a major reason the Bills have been viable in Buffalo, the league’s second-smallest market.
The Bills, who are in the NFL’s bottom quartile for revenue generation, received $309.2 million last year through the league’s revenue-sharing program.