The Buffalo Bills have lost their last two football games by a combined total of 66 points. The team hasn’t made the playoffs for 12 years, and it looks as though this will be the 13th. The quarterback, whose specialty seems to be throwing ugly incompletions, would be second string on half the teams in the NFL. There is continuing speculation that the team could be leaving Buffalo, something the Bills have not guaranteed one way or the other.
Yet Bills fans continue to shower money for tickets, apparel and refreshments on the team.
It all says something about the kind of fans Buffalo has.
Other cities support only winners. We love the Bills (and the Sabres) despite the fact that they are anything but winners.
Now comes talk of the need for a new stadium for the Bills, one that could cost up to a billion dollars. The state has spent huge sums recently building new baseball stadiums for the Yankees and Mets and a new arena in Brooklyn for the NBA’s Nets.
Ralph C. Wilson Jr., unlike other owners, is not asking for a new stadium. He wants the current one updated, which, in this era of sports as business, is only fair.
The state, which is willing to spend the money, wants the Bills to commit to a guarantee to continue playing here, which is only fair.
It should be mentioned that the state gets an enormous amount of income tax revenue from the Bills and their players, in addition to sales tax revenue on merchandise sales. That revenue, projected over the expected 10-year life of a new lease, should more or less cover the $200 million cost of renovating Ralph Wilson Stadium.
There are Buffalonians, a lot of them, who place the highest priority on keeping the Bills here. On the other side of the ledger, there are many thousands of Western New Yorkers who could not care less whether the Bills stay or go.
The Bills bring a lot of national recognition to Buffalo. Buffalo is one of a small, select group of cities that can support an NFL team. Could we live without them? Of course we could; a lot of cities the same size or larger don’t have NFL teams and they get along just fine.
The bottom line, then, is that while we could survive without the Bills, the team enriches us by being an important part of the fabric of the community.