There’s been a lot of talk about potential stadiums for the Buffalo Bills, as well as talk about the short- and long-term future of the Bills themselves. That’s what happens when your franchise is up for sale and your home venue is 40 years old.
Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News wrote this week that although there’s been a “If you build it, they will come” mantra regarding stadiums and Super Bowls of late, it’s not realistic to think that if/when Buffalo builds a new home for the Bills, they too will have a chance to host the biggest game on earth.
And he’s probably right. Buffalo isn’t Minneapolis or even Indianapolis and we wouldn’t likely be talking about a $1.2 billion venue.
We do not have the infrastructure of those cities. I’m struck by talking to people here who think we’re in that kind of neighborhood. We’re not.
The downtown buildings all through Minneapolis are connected by an elaborate labyrinth of skywalks. Think how nice that would be here in, say, February.
Indianapolis’ massive convention setup and hotel network has essentially made it the every-five-years home of the Final Four and has lured events like baseball’s Winter Meetings.
You have to understand how far behind Buffalo has fallen in the hospitality industry, too. There are pretty much no luxury properties here.
But what if those in charge of picking a location for a new stadium went with something in Niagara Falls, right on the U.S.-Canada border? It’s been talked about, and it could be a game-changer.
For one thing, that would likely strengthen the team’s fan base in Southern Ontario. Orchard Park is 72 miles from Toronto. Niagara Falls, NY is only 44 miles away. That nearly cuts the trip in half, which could be huge considering that approximately 17 percent of the fans that come to Ralph Wilson Stadium for home games today are from north of the border.
And what about the possibility, then, of Buffalo and Toronto sharing a Super Bowl? I know it sounds crazy, but those two regions combined out-populate every city in the United States except New York. It would be a potential economic boon, and it would create one of the most unique Super Bowl weeks in NFL history.
The drive time between Toronto and Niagara is a little over an hour. And if they were to introduce a ferry service just for that week, it could get people to and from in less time and without traffic. That might be a little too ambitious, but we’re spitballing here.
It’s not as though Fort Lauderdale and Miami are withing shouting distance, but they co-hosted the last Super Bowl in South Florida. Arlington and Dallas can be a trek, but they made it happen for XLV. Super Bowl 50 will be held in Santa Clara, which is about the same distance from San Francisco as Niagara is from Toronto.
They’d have to work on border crossings, customs and traffic, but it’s not that crazy. And it could be the type of perk that helps move this process forward.