At the Hall of Fame press conference announcing the 2009 class, Bills owner Ralph Wilson was applauded in Tampa for his loyalty to Buffalo as his team’s home city. Here was his comment that drew the applause.
“When I started the franchise in Buffalo, I believe you have to have consistency in a franchise because people become attached to a franchise. They take their children to the game. So many people across the country I have met have said, ‘My father used to take me to the games in Old War Memorial Stadium in downtown Buffalo and we used to stand in the end zone.'”
“People in a community become attached to a team. It gives them a quality of life and I don’t think, and I’ve always voted against it, maybe other people think differently. But I came into the game because I enjoy the game and wanted to be a part of ownership. Pro football to me is not about making money. That might sound a little off the track, but it’s not. It’s a matter of competition, the thrill of the game being the greatest sport in America, the thrill of seeing some players like Rod Woodson, Bruce Smith and all the players I’ve seen over the last half century.”
“And I think even though Buffalo is receding economically, it’s more difficult for us to operate than other areas, but we can still survive. And I think it would be very damaging, speaking just for Buffalo now, to move that team. I think it would be crushing to the fans if they didn’t have that team win or lose. And I think as long as a team is not losing a lot of money and can afford to stay they shouldn’t move. If they can get some help from the residents and taxpayers and some help on their own, they should stay.”
“So I have voted against all relocations, all, because I don’t think it was right. When a sportswriter came up to me and asked me, ‘Hey did you know that such and such a team has moved to such and such a city?’ So the people in that city wake up in the morning and they don’t have a team anymore. And that’s not right. We’re involved in a sport and a sport to me is not just to make money. And that’s why in a long-winded answer to your question I have kept the team (in Buffalo).”
Tags: Ralph Wilson
Posted in Inside the Bills