Its been a topic on the mind of Bills fans for many years. Ralph Wilson is getting up there in age, now 94 years old. There appears to be no plan in place for the team after Wilson passes, which has lead many to worry the team would go to the highest bidder. There have been movements in the past, groups that have stated it was their intention to keep the team here in Buffalo. Yesterday another plan was proposed, one that would more than likely make certain that the team would not leave. How likely is this to happen? Incredibly slim.
The Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex pitched an idea to the Common Counsel for a brand new football stadium that would be built on the waterfront downtown. The land is currently owned by the NFTA and is known for heavy pollution. The stadium would cost about 1.4 billion dollars and seat about 72,000. The first step for the group would be acquiring the land.
The group has yet to contact any of the interested groups, including the NFTA or the Buffalo Bills, about the proposal. While talking on WGR this morning Bills CEO Russ Brandon dismissed the proposal as a “non-starter.” The odds this incredible stadium will be built are very slim. However it is becoming increasingly apparent that changes need to be made to the Bills home.
The answer from the Bills has been renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium. This plan is the cheapest and obviously does the least. It also offers the least amount of security. The stadium is still old, a new owner would likely feel that the team could easily be moved from the Ralph.
There is also the idea of building a new stadium all together. Most Buffalonians would prefer a stadium downtown. Maybe a new location that is much cheaper than the one proposed is a more realistic option (although the retractable roof does sound very nice). The bill would need to be covered by New York State and the taxpayers. The issue of traffic in the city could also be seen as a negative, especially in the location that the group proposed yesterday. Three additional bridges would need to be built to get to the stadium.
Then there’s the word that so many Bills fans have come to fear; Toronto. Considered a likely spot for the team for a few years now, it has lead to much adversity from the fans. The Toronto Series has been seen as an omen for many, a sign that the Bills days in Buffalo could soon be over. Hamilton has also been mentioned. If you step back and think however, if the team does move this is our best option.
Los Angeles is looming. They already have their plan in place to build a new 1.2 billion dollar stadium across from the Staples Center. The city wants a team, and the league wants a team there. What sounds better to you, the team moving across the country or an hour and a half to the north?
There are inconveniences if the team would move to Toronto. Fans would have to cross the border to see their team, and the bridges we have in place are very under-suited for the incredible traffic that would bring. But if the team is no longer viable in Buffalo, isn’t that better than it not being possible to go to their games at all?
The more real a relocation of the Bills becomes, the more fondly people will think of Toronto. At this point, its all up in the air. Another owner could come into place, one that is passionate about keeping the team in Buffalo. Wilson could begin plans for after his death, or might even already have private ones. No one knows. All we know now is that the Bills are nowhere near safe, which should worry each and every one of the team’s fans.