As a 20-year resident of Buffalo, I wonder if the people of Western New York consider the Buffalo Bills a crucial asset for our region. I personally live in the Buffalo area by choice and have enjoyed going to games, watching on TV and listening on the radio to our Bills in the good times, as well as the not-so-good times.
Although I would not be considered an avid, high-profile fan, I do think that the time is at hand to decide if the residents want to keep the Bills as part of the fabric of Western New York for another generation.
If the answer is no, then the exit of the Bills is not an important loss.
But if the answer is yes, then area residents, leaders and government officials had better get busy and develop a proactive strategy to keep the Bills in Buffalo. I personally believe that the potential of losing the Bills is great, considering that Ralph Wilson is, or soon will be, in the process of determining how the next ownership will be structured.
The Buffalo Bills are a major asset of Western New York, and if the team leaves our area, it should be only after every alternative to secure a long-term commitment has been exhausted.
No matter what alternative option we pursue, one can rest assured that it will be expensive. However, losing the Bills is another nail, a big nail, in the coffin of the Buffalo area. I know of no city that is happy it lost an NFL team.
I would offer one suggestion. The downtown waterfront development should include a new state-of-the-art stadium for the Buffalo Bills. We need a covered stadium.
The cost will have to come from the state (the largest share, it has our money already), local funding (taxes, bonds, cake sales, etc.), business, labor, educators, towns, cities, villages, etc., and of course, every one of us.
If we want to keep an NFL team in Western New York, we need to start a dialogue with state and local officials, business leaders, labor leaders, civic leaders, the public and, most importantly, Wilson.
Let us not forget that Wilson has kept the Bills in Buffalo. We need to understand what he believes is necessary to ensure that the next generation of Buffalonians has the opportunity for a Super Bowl party in this great area where we live, work and raise our families.
The challenge is clear: Keep the Bills. How that can be achieved will take a concerted effort on the part of every resident of Western New York. If we do nothing now, it will not be long before it is too late.
Mr. Wilson, can you hear us? What can we do to help keep our team our team? Governor, senators, representatives, local officials, business leaders, labor leaders, educators, civic organizations and residents: Can you hear? Can anyone hear?
David Campbell of Williamsville is president of Integrity Enterprises and retired president and CEO of Dunlop Tire Corp.