BATAVIA — Ed Rutkowski laughed when asked if he could drop some names.
“Nope,” he replied.
Rutkowski has a unique perspective on the Buffalo Bills. He’s a former player and Erie County executive. Parties that will determine the team’s long-term future in Western New York have come to him for insight.
“People have talked to me, yes,” Rutkowski said. “That’s why I’m so confident it’s going to stay right here in Buffalo.
“Take my word for it.”
Rutkowski, the all-purpose back who played on the Bills’ back-to-back AFL championship teams, was at Terry Hills Golf Course today for the 28th annual Jim Kelly Celebrity Classic. He’s president of the Buffalo Bills Alumni Foundation and sits on the Kelly for Kids Foundation’s board of directors.
There was no denying Rutkowski’s optimism the Bills will stick around.
“There are people who are going to be able to step up to the plate,” Rutkowski said. “I feel quite confident the team is going to be in Buffalo forever. There are just too many good people who want to see it happen.”
Rutkowski doesn’t seem to agree with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s stance that a new stadium is required to keep the Bills economically feasible here.
Rutkowski noted an ambitious, $400 million project at his alma mater, Notre Dame, where two buildings totaling 750,000 square feet are being added to the school’s 84-year-old stadium.
“The stadium out there in Orchard Park, you can do the same thing eventually,” Rutkowski said. “You can put a dome on it. You can turn it into an entertainment, convention-center complex so you can use it 365 days a year, and you don’t have to spend an awful lot of money on a new stadium and have the taxpayers contribute to it.
“That stadium’s got great sightlines. Some of the newer stadiums, you get nosebleeds in the upper decks. As people say, it’s got good bones.
“After you get the $130 million renovations done, I don’t know if you’re going to need a new stadium. You’ll just need it more renovated in the future and maybe put a dome on it.”
The Bills signed 6-foot-2, 290-pound center Macky MacPherson, who played for Doug Marrone at Syracuse.
MacPherson is the grandson of former Syracuse coach Dick MacPherson.