On Thursday, the National Football League announced the 2017 season schedule for the Buffalo Bills. It included the Bills game at Miami being played on New Year's Eve.
For decades, local restaurateur Russell Salvatore has hosted an annual party in Miami for Bills fans traveling to the Dolphins game.
In a 1997 story by The News' Bob Curran, Salvatore described the genesis of the gathering and said, "Now displaced Buffalonians plan their entire football season around the party."
Due to the New Year's Eve scheduling conflict, the event will not be held this year.
On Friday, Salvatore wrote the following letter to The Buffalo News. When The News called to confirm he wrote the letter about not being able to throw his party, he said, "Broke my heart, broke my heart!"
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I’m sorry Buffalo, blame the NFL!
For close to 30 years I have looked forward to hosting Bills Fans in Miami for a party the night before the away game against the Dolphins. That game has to be, by at least 50 times, the most traveled-to away game every year by us Bills Fans.
It didn’t matter how the team was doing, this game was immediately circled by so many of us as an opportunity to enjoy a game, sunny Florida and gave us a chance to reunite, if only for a weekend, with old friends. I saw so many of the same people every year, hugging and celebrating, it really has become tradition, a Fall Buffalo reunion for so many.
Since the schedule was announced Thursday night, my phone has been ringing of the hook with people wondering, "What now?" I had calls from Florida wondering if there was anything I could do.
Out of 17 possible weeks of a football schedule, for this matchup to possibly happen, the NFL really shot themselves, and the Bills, in the foot by scheduling this highly anticipated game on New Year’s Eve.
Forget the numbskull logic of playing the Dolphins and Patriots four out of the last five weeks, the New Year's Eve Blunder will cost the city of Miami a lot of money, disappoint thousands and – for me personally – it has taken the heart right out of me.
I’m not privy to the analytics of laying out a 32-team schedule, but really someone was asleep at the wheel on this one.
This game could have been replaced by any other on the schedule and both teams, the NFL and the FANS would have made out.
So attention One Bills Drive, please consider the Fans a little more in the future. I think you must have some input on the schedule, and now a great opportunity of fan camaraderie and team support will be on hold for a whole year.
Season Ticket Holder since 1968