I want to start by thanking all the fans who’ve made the #BillsMafia movement into a fan powerhouse.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with me or the Buffalo Fan Alliance initiative, here’s a bit of background. First and foremost, I’ve been a Bills fan all my life. I had the great opportunity to work for the Bills in the media relations department nearly 10 years ago. I founded a Buffalo real-estate investment company, settled down in the city and never thought I’d have any further involvement with the Bills beyond rooting the team on every Sunday. Then came the lease negotiations and a group of like-minded Buffalo advocates who grew increasingly concerned about the team’s future in Buffalo.
The Buffalo Fan Alliance is a community based group of Bills fans including business leaders, political leaders, academics and even former Bills legends such as Andre Reed, Billy Shaw, Joe Delamielleure, James Lofton and more. The one thing we all have in common is that we refuse to sit quietly and let the Bills leave Buffalo.
We drew on two fundamental happenings from the mid 90’s to shape what would grow to become the Buffalo Fan Alliance. They were the relocation of the Cleveland Browns and the influential and unique fan movement known as ‘Business Backs the Bills’.
When the Browns relocated to Baltimore, it wasn’t for a lack of fan passion. Rather, it was the perfect, or more appropriately an imperfect storm of fan, political and community apathy. Everyone thought someone else would do something to protect the team and that the Browns relocation could never actually become reality. Unfortunately for Browns fans, it became reality.
For those unfamiliar with the Business Backs the Bills effort, it was led by former Buffalo News publisher Stan Lipsey, banking executive Erkie Kailbourne and a number of other Buffalo business leaders. The effort keyed in on boosting the new wave of luxury suite sales in a renovated Bills stadium. These fans acted to protect the team and they succeeded.
Here we are in 2014 and as we all know, the Bills’ future in Buffalo is at a crossroads. The new lease gives us a great opportunity to get involved now while there’s still time. We as fans can sit back, hope that others will make a difference, or we can get involved.
There is no reason the Bills can’t thrive in Buffalo for generations to come! For those skeptical fans who suggest that the NFL is all about money, the facts show that the Bills belong. According to the Forbes NFL revenue report, despite playing in a pre-renovated stadium and a long playoff drought, the Bills generate more revenue than 10 NFL teams. Buffalo belongs.
But the NFL is about more than just money. At the end of the day, it’s an entertainment business. Entertainment depends of passionate fans to succeed. There must be a balance of corporate driven markets along with fan driven markets or else teams all teams would play in half empty sterile stadiums. Without this balance, the NFL will not succeed. Buffalo both makes money and has some of the most passionate fans in the league. Buffalo belongs.
While we can’t buy the team, we do have a powerful collective voice that can learn what happened in Cleveland to do our part to make sure it doesn’t happen in Buffalo. In the coming weeks and months, we at the Buffalo Fan Alliance will give you the facts about the Bills in Buffalo along with opportunities to get involved.
Take the first step by going to www.buffalofanalliance.org to join our open letter to the NFL telling them that the Bills belong in Buffalo. Just like on Sunday afternoon, your voice counts.