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NEW ENGLAND LESSONS APPLY HERE, TOO

Western New Yorkers could benefit a little by listening to the jubilation and despair among football fans and civic leaders in New England, where the proposed relocation of a pro football team sheds new light on the old struggle to keep the Bills in Buffalo.

"An NFL team is one of the very few things that, overnight, will turn around the image of Hartford as a city in decline," Connecticut's Senate majority leader declared after the announcement of a handshake deal to move the Patriots from Foxboro, Mass.

To land the Patriots for 30 years and $150 million in promised redevelopment investments by the team, Connecticut leaders will seek legislative approval of a $350 million stadium construction project. The state also agreed to pay up to $10 million if club seat sales fall short of a $20 million target, and up to $7.5 million if luxury suite sales miss a $5 million mark.

New York's promise of $63.25 million for stadium renovations -- if the $11 million goal is reached by Tuesday -- looks like a steal. The contrast between New England and Buffalo still shows that local and state political leadership here have done their job well, the team has set a reasonable goal and the local business community has shown the kind of civic leadership that has been absent in the past.

The deadline looms. In the history of the Buffalo Bills, the crucial moment so far has been defined by the term "wide right." But even that was better than falling short.

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