The latest issue of The Sporting News has a few items of interest to local sports fans. First is its annual list of America's top sports cities. Buffalo comes in at #42, with a flattering quote about the region from Sabres' GM Darcy Regier. "Niagara" (and not Niagara Falls) comes in at #167, Olean is at #214, and Batavia ranks #368 on the list of 400 cities. Boston is number one.
Then there's a list of top prospects for the 2009 NBA draft. Jonny Flynn of Syracuse, the former Niagara Falls HS star, is listed as the top point guard, and is said to be a possible top three pick.
But the most interesting item might come from Will Leitch, the founder of Deadspin and a columnist for the publication. In writing about the changing (and not for the better) face of sports economics, he offers this paragraph:
"The Buffalo Bills are the prime example of this. The problem is not that they are actively flirting with moving to Canada, however much they might claim otherwise. The problem is that they're actually lucky they're close enough to Canada to have the option. Towns like Buffalo in this country are dying. The manufacturing industries that served our great American blue-collar towns, the Pittsburghs, the Detroits, the St. Louises .... they have abandoned us. I love Buffalo. It's a beautiful city. Well, what's left of it is. But the Bills would be crazy not to move. And that's a tragedy. The question is not why an NFL team would leave Buffalo. The question is whether, in 15 years, we're even gonna have 32 cities affluent enough to host sports teams."
It's an interesting question, and it leads to an even bigger question. Do the economic troubles of the last couple of weeks mean bad news is ahead for small-market teams like the Bills and Sabres, or are all sports going to take an economic hit relatively evenly? It's tough to picture fans across the country taking a look at their 401K statements, and then paying more than $100 a ticket for a game, any game.
So what about you? Are you thinking of cutting back your spending on sporting events in the near future because of the recession? Let us know what you're thinking about this one.
--- Budd Bailey