Living in Buffalo is difficult. We’ve been through a lot and hear what we’ve been through even more. Usually when someone has never been to Buffalo, if they visit us in July, and to their delight, or displeasure, they find a wonderful 80 degrees and 60% humidity day, the first thing they will ask is “where is the snow?” We’ve heard that joke before. It’s not really that funny to us. In fact, its never snowed in Buffalo May through September except for one freak day in May, 1988, and as shocking as this may seem, Buffalo has the highest percentage of sunshine and the lowest amount of rainfall of any city in the northeast during the summer months. Also, during those summer months, Buffalo’s average temperature is 80 degrees, ranking it first in comfortability as well. Oh, and that snow? Its our neighbor to the east, Syracuse, which lands fourth on the list of the ten snowiest cities in the US, a list Buffalo doesn’t even make.
Alas, as hurricanes blast the south and southeast, heat, draught, wildfires, earthquakes and mudslides ravage the west, we Buffalonians are strangely stuck in a city which undeservedly remains the weather joke of the nation. Buffalonians have grown up with the joke and in many ways, accept that this is the joke. It snows in Buffalo. When Ray Romano is telling his dad he can’t stand his mom but at least he isn’t in Buffalo, everyone chuckles and nods because that’s the joke. Used in every bad sitcom and commercial jingle since 1977. The weather is the joke. Right?
Nobody is laughing, or even smiling in the Bronx right now. As, the door closed last night on The House That Ruth Built, allegations are swirling everywhere about the new stadium. It appears that somehow, someone, used a little tricky math to get almost all of the $1.3 billion Yankee stadium paid for by New York state taxpayers. The most egregious of abuses – the land used to build the stadium on which the city used to gain IRS approval for Yankees tax breaks, exemptions and city created bonds (which the team did not initially qualify), was valued at approximately 40 times higher than any other property in the Bronx. The Yankees are looking to get another $300 million in bonds approved in order to get a large video screen, instead of the structural costs which were noted.
As a side note, the city and the state agreed to provide the Yankees with more than $300 million in cash subsidies for garages, a Metro-North train station, replacement parks and road work, and the Yankees do not pay rent for playing on city land, nor do they pay property taxes.
Neither the Yankees nor New York City officials are ‘fessing up. Mayor Michel Bloomberg won’t be sending a representative to testify in front of Dennis Kucinich’s subcommittee hearing, and the Yankee’s claim many of the allegations are untrue. They also claim that the new stadium, as well as the new Mets stadium, is good for growth in their terrible borough economies and bring jobs and interest to the areas.
While at the Bills – Raiders game, I sat in front of a group of Canadians. In fact, it was their first time ever seeing football live. They were incredibly polite, to the point of being too polite – where they asked us to sit down during critical plays because it was drizzling, they were cold and didn’t feel like standing up. While security guards were all around us, reminding people of the new “security policies,” I looked at them, and debated whether I felt pity, hatred or fear. It really was kind of a combination of the three feelings, but either way, I thought to myself “I’m losing my team to you in six years, you could at least have the courtesy to let me stand up while they are still in Buffalo and let me teach you how to be a fan.” They, incredibly politely, a few more times told us that when we stood up they couldn’t see the field. They continued to ask us to sit down pretty much every time we stood.
If this was happy fun land, we could either play choose your own ending or I could finish the story with a fairytale ending. That being said, they were sitting when Lindell kicked the winner, and they didn’t receive many high-fives.
Whether a new stadium in the Bronx and Queens brings commerce and adds to the overall value of the area or detracts from it is true or not, I don’t really care. I understand logistics. I get that New York City outnumbers the city eight to one, I get that people are leaving the city and not flocking to it, but did it take the chicken to create the egg, or did the chicken have to come from the egg?
Buffalo has an inferiority complex which needs to end. We deserve some of the pie. We shouldn’t be funding these billion dollar collisseum for the Yankees and Mets only to know the Bills are eventually leaving for greater gains in Toronto. We are continually told that politicians meet with Ralph Wilson and that everything is going to be fine, but that is a flat out lie. Teams can’t exist in the new NFL without behemoth stadiums and the riches of expensive luxury boxes. The Bills get by, barely, in today's NFL. But today's NFL isn't the AFL that Ralph Wilson once help form, and was once considered a maverick in. Wilson is now out of his league and considered a curmudgeon. The Bills can't sustain any kind of dominance without a new stadium. Sadly, can Buffalo look in the mirror and identify enough corporations to finance those expensive luxury boxes? Can the current Buffalo economy compete in one of the biggest industries in today's America?
Will anyone at the state or local level, willing to give in to the demands of the NFL and is anyone ready to put a stadium downtown, by the water, where it belongs and lock the Bills into a lease before they leave? Wilson could charge whatever he wants for tickets and Buffalonians would come. Buffalo is professional sports. We turn out for our teams. But the NFL isn't about fan loyalty, its a business, and Buffalo isn't turning enough of a profit for these modern day business men.
Now that Ralph isn't sqwaking to the national media, where is Chuck Schumer now? We saw Hillary Clinton go on national television, during a Democratic debate and tell Tim Russert that the reason she, as Senator of New York, didn’t deliver jobs to Buffalo like she said she would, was because Al Gore wasn’t elected president. Does that mean she can’t step in here, stop this nonsense and help Buffalo now? Why doesn’t any Buffalo politician care about the fact that Buffalonians are funding a Yankee Stadium which is marred in fraud?
It’s the weather that’s the joke, right? Right?