They don't quite compete in another state's swamp like New York City's alleged teams, but building a downtown stadium would be worthwhile for greater reasons than correct geography.
At this point, it's just an idea that's been floated by Erie County Executive Chris Collins, one that's infinitely easier to talk about than attain.
But most good ideas are pains to make into reality, and Buffalo won't get anywhere until it begins with concepts that would truly improve the situation such as this one.
Building a stadium in suburban Orchard Park seems to have been a decision made using the flawless logic that, if people are fleeing the city, new projects should be built where everyone is landing upon completion of the fleeing. In reality, sticking things in the burbs only hastened the death of downtown while resulting in large structures stuck within quiet neighborhoods, peculiarly out of place like a Hooters next to a cathedral. It's the same basic reason that the bulk of the University at Buffalo is near nearly nothing on its outlying plot, and the only remedy for feeble planning is to make better decisions the next time.
Another mistake to be avoided would be Eastern Bloc-style allocations for the project. The problem with spending taxpayer money on a stadium, aside from compelling the public to finance a private business, is that the reason there's not enough private money to build one is that outrageous tax rates are imposed on the state's residents to go towards projects like. . . funding stadiums. It has to stop somewhere, and just because it's the norm doesn't make it a good thing.
If for no other reason than letting a company pay for its own building, it would be nice to have the tax burden reduced to attract money voluntarily to the region, not to mention how fun it would ultimately be for fans to hear those in other NFL cities complaining about Buffalo's market size instead of being the whiner.
Despite numerous and daunting barriers that must be surmounted, having a centrally located facility in the actual city proper would be an ideal scenario, one that would spur economic and social activity. Of course, this is still in pre-preliminary stages, as it's basically nothing more than a politician's concept. Like being able to eat Wonka Bars for dinner every evening, this might remain a fantastic dream for at least awhile.
But the benefits would be exceptional. There is the fantasy of hosting a Super Bowl in Buffalo, but, aside from issues like insufficient quantities of hotel rooms and blizzard potential, it would mean they'd have to build either a retractable or immovable roof; no matter how much fun championship game attendees might have engaging in revelry on Chippewa Street, the fact is that an open-air stadium is a huge advantage for this team in addition to serving as an opportunity for locals to display their heartiness in the face of arctic-style conditions.
Regardless of whether the sort-of proposed venue would be lidded, the most important point is that there's no way that the NFL would allow the relocation of a team that has a new home. There are many obstacles blocking such a project, but the benefits would be tremendous for an ardent fan base that's ready to attend and spend in the city. It's a group that's also finally, mercifully realizing that the best way to help this team is to improve the area's economy instead of waiting for subsidies, handouts, and other assorted Band-Aids.
The execution will be quite tricky, but the concept is solid: Bring the Bills back within the city limits, specifically to the sadly underdeveloped waterfront in a move that would benefit both the team and its true home. The first step is to avoid thinking it will never happen; being fatally resigned to failure won't keep the franchise in Western New York, much less get it a new address along the water.