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READYING DOLPHINS' RED CARPET

The belief here is that no member of the local Monday Quarterback Club is more eager to see the Bills earn the right to host playoff games than Sue Ward of Snyder.

That statement will evoke protests from club president John Putnam and members like Jerry Flaschner, Fred Dentinger, Judge Barbara Howe and Betty Long. But that won't change my opinion, because those people are merely incurable fans whose businesses are not affected by the fortunes of the football team.

Not so with Sue Ward, who, in addition to being an ardent fan, is director of sales for the Hyatt Regency Buffalo hotel. As such, she has good reason to salivate at the thought of pro football teams staying at her hotel in January.

Right now she and her associates are preparing for the arrival of the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 22. Of course, the Dolphins would be welcome at most hotels in the Northeast on Dec. 22, when the occupancy rate is lower than a Patriots fan's morale. To have rooms filled at that time with men who eat like they are headed for the electric chair is the fulfillment of a hotel person's dreams.

As I thought about the impending visit by the Dolphins, I wondered if Ward and associates are feeling mixed emotions. Are they bothered by the realization that a win by the Bills on Dec. 23 could cost them the Dolphins account next fall?

Yes, since pro athletes are superstitious, a loss by the Dolphins that day could cause team officials to make a change in the 1991 routine in Buffalo. Was this cause for concern?

"I know that many pro athletes are superstitious," Ward said the other day. "In fact, I knew that before I came into the hotel business 10 years ago. But experience has shown that once team officials see how we treat guests, they keep coming back."

To those who believe that was a brash statement, I offer a bit of information. Ward was recently named Sales Director of the Year in competition with directors from 107 other Hyatt hotels.

That award pleased and puzzled those familiar with Ward's family tree. You see, her great-great-grandfather, Hamilton Ward, was a congressman from New York State. Great-grandfather Hamilton Ward Jr. was our state's attorney general, and grandfather Hamilton Ward III was a State Supreme Court justice. Sue's father, Hamilton Ward IV of Snyder, is a practicing attorney.

No, there is not a hotel person on either side of her family. But Ms. Ward has been interested in the field since studying hotel and restaurant management and tourism at Endicott Junior College. And she didn't have to worry about breaking the family's law tradition. Her likable brother, Hamilton Ward V, is the sports editor of the Key West (Fla.) Citizen.

Does the presence of professional football teams -- and the Hyatt Regency Buffalo played host to five of the eight teams visiting the Bills this season -- put a heavy burden on the hotel's employees?

"We believe that we give VIP service to all guests," Ms. Ward answered. "But the teams do need extra attention because of unique circumstances. We don't have many groups that require bed checks and request two special meals.

"The enormous meals are not a big problem, because of the team's advance publicity man, who usually arrives four days before the game. He goes over the menus with our catering manager, Jim Fields, and makes arrangements for the players' rooms, all of which must be on the same floor. The team officials want us to be efficient and practically invisible. They don't want any surprises or breaks in the routine. Obviously, we have been obliging them."

What is the request most often made by advance publicity men who want to explore the city?

Ms. Ward laughed and said, "It's, 'Direct me to the Anchor Bar.' "

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