It seems like ever since I became a Buffalo Bills fan in the mid-2000s, plans for a new stadium have been a constant source of the tailgate and social media banter. Finally, after years and years of fan surveys, rumors, and rendering, we appear to have an answer to where a new stadium might be, thanks to 13 WHAM Reporter Mike Catalana. And that place is where the Buffalo Bills absolutely belong… Orchard Park.
Why Orchard Park?
One take I keep coming across is that Buffalo needs a downtown stadium. Don’t get me wrong, downtown stadiums are fun. I get the appeal of a football stadium on the waterfront surrounded by restaurants and bars galore, but that’s not what the Buffalo Bills gameday experience is about. Buffalo Bills games are not about bar hopping, they are about the tailgate. They are about setting up your grill and cracking a beverage at 8 am. It’s about games and tossing around the football, it is about hanging out with your fellow tailgaters.
The Buffalo football experience is a unique one. Not many teams have the parking lot space the Buffalo Bills have for fans to spread out and tailgate their way. A downtown stadium will ultimately lead to rules and regulations about when you can get to the game, what you can bring, and how you can enjoy your tailgate experience. A Buffalo Bills game without a tailgate simply isn’t a Buffalo Bills game.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I am all about the advancement of the game and I don’t have many “get off my lawn” takes. But here is one, FOOTBALL IS SUPPOSED TO BE PLAYED OUTSIDE. Spare me your warm-weather vs. cold weather Josh Allen splits, I simply don’t care. The best teams win football games regardless of the weather. What fun is it to be in the snowiest metropolitan area of the country if we can’t force warm weather teams, and their fans, to shiver their way through 60 minutes of football? Never again would we have stories like the Buffalo Bills-Colts snow game in 2017.
So What Now?
I don’t know nearly enough about construction or the politics of Erie County to speculate on whether playing games in Toronto or Happy Valley (Penn State) for a year is a true possibility or simply a negotiating tactic for a new lease. What I do know is that the days of Highmark Stadium (aka Bills Stadium, aka New Era Field, aka The Ralph, aka Rich Stadium) are numbered. So let me hit you with one more take before you go.
Not that it matters now, but the current stadium is perfect. We Buffalo Bills fans don’t need all the fancy bells and whistles of a Jerry’s World. The current stadium reflects its fan base and its team. All I hope is that when Terry and Kim cut their check for the new Buffalo Bills stadium, they remember this. And that they do everything they can to replicate everything that makes this stadium perfect.