Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Published 11:36 PM EDT Jul 15, 2020
The Buffalo Bills and New Era have agreed to part ways and thus, the name of the football stadium in Orchard Park, New Era Field, will pass into history along with Rich Stadium and Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“The Buffalo Bills and New Era Cap Company jointly announce that New Era has asked to be released from their naming rights and sponsorship deals with the Bills. The Bills and New Era are currently negotiating the details of this separation and the Bills are beginning the process of pursuing a new naming rights partner for the stadium.”
New Era entered into the agreement with the Bills in 2016, two years after Terry and Kim Pegula purchased the team from the estate of the late Ralph Wilson.
According to The Buffalo News, the agreement was a seven-year deal for about $4 million per year.
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It was known that New Era has been struggling financially, particularly since the coronavirus shut down the country back in March. The company has reportedly furloughed about 70 percent of his workforce, much of that at its headquarters in Buffalo.
Ultimately, those furloughs became layoffs for 187 people, 117 in Buffalo.
When the stadium opened in 1973, Rich Products, a dairy company based in Buffalo, purchased the naming rights for 25 years, at $1 million per year. When that contract expired, Wilson opted against pursuing another deal and so, from 1998 through 2015, the venue was named after him.
It was unusual because NFL teams had been making tens of millions, some hundreds of millions, in naming rights, but Wilson wouldn’t do it.
Clearly, the Pegulas were agreeable to finding new revenue streams, especiallt for a franchise that lags behind most teams in terms of corporate suite and sponsorship revenue.
The News reported that the team and New Era have been working for about a year to restructure the deal, but apparently nothing could be worked out and New Era – given its current financial situation – had to get out.
It is unknown whether the Bills have been negotiating with other companies while the details of the New Era breakup were being worked out.
However, it might be difficult to sign a new partner in a season when it is expected that no fans will be allowed into the stadium for games due to the pandemic. Not having 70,000 fans in attendance wouldn’t exactly be a great marketing tool for a company.
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