Now that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear that the only real long-term solution to keeping the Buffalo Bills in Western New York is by building a new venue to replace 40-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, Toronto, Los Angeles and anyone else in contention are essentially on even ground as a trust works toward selling the franchise.
In calling the Bills recently negotiated 10-year lease agreement a “short-term solution,” Goodell on Wednesday said a new stadium would be the next step in finding “the right long-term solution.”
“We all want to focus and get that stadium built,” Goodell said. “I’m confident we’ll get there.”
The only major advantage the Bills had over Toronto and L.A. is the existence of the Ralph, which is located in Orchard Park. But that’s essentially gone now that the league is stating publicly that a new stadium could be necessary.
Looking long term, Toronto, L.A. and Buffalo lack stadiums. And the problem for Buffalo is that Toronto and L.A. have a lot more corporate money to spend.
Donald Trump could swoop in for Buffalo, and maybe a consortium can come together to keep the team in town by breaking ground somewhere in the area (Niagara Falls has been a hot rumor). But Toronto has MLSE, Rogers, and Bon Jovi. And in Southern California, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke may have a stadium site in Inglewood, Calif., while potential venues also exist in Industry, Calif. and in downtown L.A.
It won’t be easy for Buffalo to compete with that, even with local politicians and business leaders pushing for a venue and with the state of New York hiring a firm to help accomplish that feat. It’s possible multiple plans come through and we start talking expansion, but the sad reality in 2014 is that Buffalo is no longer an overly viable NFL market. If the league started up today with the same level of fanfare and with the same bottom line, there’s no way they’d go to Buffalo. And since, unfortunately, that city is now close to square one, it isn’t looking good.