So I had a great conversation with Dan Miner, who writes for Buffalo Biz Journals. He put out an article about UB football, hoops. hockey, and their priorities.
He did what the “Columnists” at Buffalo News consistently fail to do.
He approached it without bias, he talked to many people who have different perspectives and roles within the community, and he laid the facts bare so the reader could draw all of their own conclusions.
Now all of that being said, there were a few points we talked about that did not get mentioned in the article. He had to trim some things to fit all the voices in, and I get that.
But I’m going to use my pulpit here to give a full accounting of what I said. Not to run down Mr. Miner, who did a great job, but just to expand things out so I don’t get hit with “you said this” later on.
Let’s start with Hockey
I was asked about UB dropping football and using the money to pick up hockey, here is what made the cut
The overall point was captured pretty well, but here are the “challenges” I waslk talking about.
- We have no place to play: Hockey’s only potential current home is the Northtown Center. It works fine for the ACHA but in terms of D1 Arena’s it’s even further behind other Hockey Arena’s than UB Stadium is behind other D1 football venues.
- We have no built in fan base: UB Footballs main problem, in my opinion, is that they haven’t put together a run of 3-5 good seasons since the 60’s. You can’t build a solid base of support in the community without that. D1 Hockey has not been played at UB in 30 years, we have no solid community fan base.
- Fighting for eyes with a Pro-Crowd: UB Football, as badly as they have struggled to consistently win, have had more success in the past 20 years than the Buffalo Bills. Yet the Pro team get’s more attention. So the post tank Sabres, no matter how much the struggle, would be an obstacle.
- Nationally Relevant means Different Things: In 2017 an average of 467,000 watched Denver win the NCAA Hockey national championship. The lowest viewed College Bowl game that season, Ohio vs UAB, drew 882,000.
I stressed that I believed UB Hockey could work, and be revenue neutral(ish) if someone like Jeremy Jacobs parachuted in with 50-70 million as a start up for a new Hockey Arena AND UB could land in a solid Hockey Conference.
And I would love for that to happen.... Please Jeremy Jacobs, do for UB what Pegula did for Penn State!
Next up is Hoops:
This cuts to the “if we dropped football, we could shift resources to hockey” narrative.
After pointing out to him we lose TV money, CFP money, and Payday game money (all of which add up to 2-3.5 million per year), I pointed out that Bona’s two main sources of money are Donations and NCAA tournament Units.
If UB dropped football, basketball donations would not increase. Quite the contrary, I think you end up losing some overall interest in the department and it could cost some donations.
At the end of the day UB’s *Best* path forward is to get football to some sustainable success. For the time being we don’t need to be Boise, but we do need to string together 4-5 winning seasons and do a better job being a visible yet complimentary product to the Bills.
I can’t stress enough that UB’s weekend home games this season are all on weeks when the Bills are either not playing or out of town. The Department absolutely must find a way to cash in on this.
Between what should be a potent offense this year and a lot of Bills idly sitting Bills fans, Buffalo should be able to fight for some better crowds in September.