Before training camp starts, I thought I’d quickly touch on a note about the Bills and their upcoming renovation of Ralph Wilson Stadium. The likelihood the Buffalo Bills will relocate, is like most NFL teams, tied directly to their stadium situation. And with renovation project on the horizon, we can rest a little easier (for a while). Why? Because Jerry Jones said so.
Tim Graham got Jones to say as much in a recent story at the Buffalo News. And it’s important, because Jerrah is the only person you could reasonably argue has more power in the NFL than Roger Goodell. In the story, Jones openly talks about how the NFL’s absence from Los Angeles is a black eye for the league. That would usually be considered a warning shot along the lines of “Get your act together, Buffalo, or it could be you,” but Jerry goes on to say that Bills fans should feel good about the renovation.
Every time a NFL team relocates, it is because an owner is unhappy with the level of financial commitment to building a new stadium the respective local government is willing to provide. The Colts, Browns, Oilers, Rams, and Raiders all played in dumps, and in all but one of those instances were able to secure funding from cities outside of the ones they played in.
Opinions may vary about Ralph Wilson Stadium in her current state, but by the NFL’s standards, it’s a dump. Goodell has all but said as much in multiple appearances throughout the area. This is because more valuable franchises like the Cowboys and Giants have a concern that smaller market franchises can use the sharing of television revenues to put millions in their pocket with (relatively) low overhead, while the big teams build expensive, lush football palaces.
By securing funding to rennovate from a downstate government eager to gain approval from distant Buffalo, the Bills have appeased the powers that be, in a way that San Diego and St Louis appear unable to. Combined with their ties to Southern California, the Rams and Chargers (and maybe the Raiders) appear to be the shortlist of candidates to move to Los Angeles. Based on Jerrah’s words, the move figures to happen sooner rather than later.
For a few years, LA’s lack of a NFL franchise has been the most serious threat to the Bills presence in WNY, and that threat is greatly diminished. However, there are other markets larger than Buffalo without a NFL franchise. Until the Bills are playing in a brand new stadium, the threat of relocation will continue to exist.
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