For the most cynical of Bills fans (redundant, I know) tomorrow is the beginning of the end.
Ralph’s master plan to “keep the Bills in Buffalo” (read: make more cash) kicks off tomorrow night, with a thrilling preseason contest chock full of third-and-fourth-stringers that will be in the CFL in a few weeks, anyway (in that respect, those lucky fans are getting an early look at their future Argos.)
Listen, Ralph. I get it. The NFL, behemoth that it is, has outgrown the WNY market. From a financial standpoint, an owner would be a fool to keep a team here when he could double his profits in a bustling metropolis. I understand, I really do. You’ve been telling us for months now that Toronto could be our saving grace, and while I’m in the minority, I agree. There’s millions of people up North with no allegiances to a specific NFL team, so it only makes sense to try and tap that market. But the way you have handled the entire ordeal has been atrocious from a PR standpoint, and you are alienating your existing fanbase in the process.
I didn’t really have much of an issue with the Bills in Toronto series until I read this. They take our game, jack up the prices, find that sales are a little slow, and try to unload them on the people that were robbed of a game in the first place. Granted, it’s only preseason, but could there be a bigger slap in the face?
There are plenty of other issues. The length of the deal. The regular season opponent. The lack of the word “Buffalo” in any of the promotion (Why not “Buffalo Bills in Toronto?”). If the deal was for one year, they were playing the 49ers, and it was made clear that the Bills are indeed from Buffalo, would you have a problem with it? It wouldn’t help much, but I would be at least a little bit more accepting.
Someone dropped the ball on the Toronto end, too. I’m not sure if the Bills or the Rogers brass set the ticket prices, but according to this article and various others, our Canadian brethren are hesitant to shell out the big bucks to watch a team they haven’t had much exposure to. This quote sums it up best:
“I love the Bills but I think they should stay there in Buffalo,” said Jeff Rubinoff, 57, of Richmond Hills, a Toronto suburb. “This is a rip-off for fans with the prices they are charging. And I feel sorry for fans in Buffalo. It’s their team. And even if they don’t move, this is just creating anxiety for everyone. I’m an Argos fan and this is a definite threat. We in Toronto feel threatened, Buffalo feels threatened, and somebody’s making a lot of money off it.”
That’s just it: Buffalo does feel threatened, and Mr. Wilson is to blame.
Something needs to be done to keep the Bills in Buffalo, and clearly, it’s out of the fans hands. There’s nothing more we can do but cross our fingers that the old man wises up before he kicks the bucket and sells the team to someone that cares less about a bigger bottom line and more about what this team means to this area. The chances of that actually happening? About zero. Money makes the world go ’round, as they say.
It’s a double edged blade. Do we root for the success of the series and hope that leads to financial stability rather than relocation? Or do we hope it busts, detracting potential owners from moving the team north? Either way, we get screwed.
It’s hard to get excited for a game when it may be the beginning of the end.
Does the thought of the game being held north of the border make you so sick to your stomach that you won’t watch at all?
Do you want to stick it to Ralph by not tuning in?
Well, then do I have the alternative for you!
Sorry to tack on this shameless plug, but I’m going to be playing some sax with my friend’s band, the Jimmy Joustra Quartet, tomorrow night (8/14) at Braccetto’s Restaurant, located at 6612 Lincoln Ave. in Lockport. The gig goes down from 8-12 on the patio. Feel free to stop by and enjoy the tunes.