The Buffalo Bills are back to threatening Western New Yorkers again. The team’s owners, the Pegulas, have doubled down on their threats to move the team if they don’t get new stadium funding from government.
The Buffalo Bills are doubling down on moving talk and threatening Western New Yorkers again.
One of the best things about the NFL is that, although the NBA and Major League Baseball have abandoned small and midsized American towns in favor of larger television markets, football clubs can still be found in locations like Buffalo, New York, and Green Bay, Wisconsin. That may not be the case for much longer, as the Buffalo Bills have threatened to relocate the club from its original home unless Western New York builds a new stadium.
This stalemate between the town and the Bills’ wealthy owners may result in a magnificent new athletic facility being built in North America’s second-smallest market. However, it is possible that Kim and Terry Pegula may become two of sports’ most infamous villains.
Since 1973, the Buffalo Bills have played at their present stadium.
New Era Field (now Highmark Stadium) in Buffalo, New York, in 2019 | Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
According to ProFootballHOF.com, the Buffalo Bills franchise was granted to Ralph C. Wilson by the American Football League in 1959. The Bills played their home games at War Memorial Stadium in downtown Buffalo from their debut until the mid-1960s.
The stadium had a capacity of 26,000 spectators when it was opened, but it was subsequently enlarged to accommodate 45,748 Bills fans. The agreement between the AFL and the NFL stipulated that venues have at least 50,000 seats, thus the team relocated to the 71,870 seat Rich Stadium in suburban Orchard Park in 1973.
This was the team’s most successful area. O.J. Simpson, the star tailback, enthralled the Orchard Park fans right immediately. The club struggled in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but when coach Marv Levy arrived in 1986, he immediately began to create something unique.
The Bills of the early 1990s had the distinction of winning four Super Bowls in a row from 1990 to 1993. Three of the four AFC Championship games were held at Rich Stadium.
Following those star-crossed 1990s teams, the organization suffered a setback. In 1998, the stadium was renamed Ralph Wilson Stadium, and in 2016, it was renamed New Era Field. When the hat manufacturer pulled out of the naming rights agreement, Bills Stadium was named until Highmark took over the rights in 2021.
Wilson died in 2014, and his family sold the club to Terry and Kim Pegula, husband and wife billionaires and Buffalo Sabres owners.
The Buffalo Bills are threatening to relocate unless New York provides them a new stadium.
According to an ownership source, Austin is a potential destination—or threat—as one of the “other towns abroad who want an NFL team and would pay well for it.” https://t.co/zMf1oChO8K
August 1, 2021 — Seth Wickersham (@SethWickersham)
As the 2021 NFL training camps got underway, The Buffalo News reported that “the Pegula business is seeking for a $1.5 billion taxpayer-funded package for a new stadium for the Bills and repairs to the Sabres arena,” citing “well-placed sources.”
“An ownership source tells me that Austin is a potential destination—or threat—as one of the ‘other towns abroad that want an NFL team and will pay handsomely for it,” according to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham.
These stories infuriated Bills fans, particularly the team’s most ardent supporters, known as the Bills Mafia. The Bills’ public relations machine was quick to debunk these reports, but the team’s threats persisted in September.
According to ProFootballTalk, Pegula Sports and Entertainment senior vice president Ron Raccuia said on WBEN-Radio in Buffalo. “No, we definitely will not,” Raccuia said when asked whether the Pegulas and the Bills would consider re-signing their contract with Highmark Stadium when the present one expires in 2022.
He tried to defuse the situation by saying, “We’re not even focused on it now,” but the challenge had already been laid down.
Moving the team would turn the Pegulas become two of sports’ most infamous villains.
The most heinous kinds of sports owner villains are those who commit atrocities on a human scale. Names like Marge Schott and Donald Sterling may be found here.
Moving a club is nothing compared to what these owners have done. It is, however, the next step on the sports-business villainy ladder. This category includes owners such as Robert Irsay (who relocated the Colts from Baltimore to Indianapolis), Art Modell (who transferred the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore), and Walter O’Malley (who relocated the Dodgers from Brooklyn to LA).
In Buffalo, the Pegulas are already on thin ice (pun intended). They’re presently destroying the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League. Duane from Buffalo, a now-famous radio talk show caller, succinctly summed up Buffalo’s hockey fans’ feelings about the Pegulas, shouting on WGR 550’s Schoop and the Bulldog, “Make us feel like we matter to you!”
If the Pegula organization’s harsh rhetoric is simply a bargaining technique, it may be a filthy pool. Fans of the Buffalo Bills will forgive this dreadful era if a new stadium is built. That is, provided it is constructed using a fair mix of public and private funds.
It’s a different thing if this is the opening volley in a petty battle that ends with the Bills leaving Buffalo. In that scenario, the Pegulas will be remembered as two of the greatest sports scoundrels of all time.
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The stadium blog is a blog that covers the Buffalo Bills. They are currently threatening to move their home games to Toronto if their stadium doesn’t get more money.
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