The BUFFALO NEWS has a piece today that is, for everyone outside of Western New York, a little amusing and perplexing.
The Bills’ octogenerian owner Ralph Wilson held a press conference yesterday to announce the club playing a series of games in Toronto beginning next season.
Of course, the News reports that all the Toronto media cared about at the presser was if the Bills would move there permanently. And Wilson didn’t exactly dismiss the prospect in his answers to the Canadian questioners.
“What am I going to say to the fans of Buffalo?” Wilson asked in response to a question. “I’m going to say, ‘Hey, I can’t speculate. I can’t speculate what’s going to happen in the future. But don’t worry. Don’t worry right now.’
“The town of Buffalo, and it’s no secret, is diminishing in size. (Blue Jays onwer) Ted (Rogers) said he’d like to see more people moving here (to Toronto). Could you send a few of them to Buffalo? Because Buffalo, honestly, is going the other way. Buffalo is dwindling in population, in jobs. People don’t have jobs, and they move out of Buffalo, they move out of Western New York. “
There’s a vote of confidence. Obviously Toronto is a better market for the NFL than Buffalo, but that’s not really the point. The NFL has plenty of crappy markets that Toronto outshines. And believe us, there will be a team there before too long.
But if you’re Wilson, who is in his 80s and an icon in western New York, why would you talk down your home city and region? Buffalo, like Green Bay, Jacksonville and Memphis, is a small market. But it can surely survive, so long as the team remains somewhat competitive
The irony here is that Wilson claims that the local economy is suffering, yet his comments are really posturing in order to gain further financial concessions from the city and state. He’s trying to scare the locals into giving the Bills whatever they want to stay. When in reality, they aren’t going anywhere. Think Cincinnati a few years back. Same deal.