Let me get this out if the way right up front. I'm including Batavia and Wheatfield here mostly as a nod to the fact that both locations have been mentioned as possible locations for a new Bills stadium. Here's the thing amount both of those spots.
I hate them. Not so much as places to go out to eat or, I don't know, look at some wheat. I'm so sorry about that. A cheap shot at Wheatfield for sure, but I can't help it. When I was 16 years old my Midget hockey team from South Buffalo only lost 2 games all season and both were to Wheatfield. Just walking into the Hockey Outlet still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
I'm a weirdo and have trouble letting things go sometimes. I am working on it.
Batavia and Wheatfield are fine towns and I'm sure I could happily live there. They just have no business housing our NFL team. So cut it out. Does it even need to be said that if all else fails and we can't make a better idea work, then a stadium in either of these places would be way better than losing the team? No? Good.
We do have better ideas. Like the City of Buffalo, for example. Pick a spot. Downtown near the First Niagara Center could work. The Perry Street housing area has been mentioned and makes some sense. Pushing farther away from the arena area, somewhere between Larkinville and the Central Terminal on the East Side could work. I'm not closed off to something along Route 5, though I do think of all potential city sites, it is the most challenging in terms of getting people in and out.
I have been hearing plenty of feedback about the lack of tailgating options a city stadium would afford. Like many of you, I have greatly enjoyed this scene over the years. I have also enjoyed bar hopping before games in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. It is of course different than a crock pot of chili in your trunk and grilling your own burgers. Different doesn't have to be bad. And maybe you don't even need your car.
A good friend of mine, a guy who I'd describe as being as big Bills fans as I know, sent me an e mail last week with a suggestion that I'll paraphrase here.
Park at the Amtrak station in Depew. Hop a train downtown. Hit a few bars, go to the game, check out a band at Ironworks, hop the train back to Depew. The track is there to make that happen.
That sounds like a pretty solid day to me. No driving through traffic coming and going, no parking hassle. Different than what we're used to? Sure. Bad? Hardly.
I think we'll have to fight through our tendency to assume that nothing ever gets done around here. Look around. Canalside is a revelation, and it's not all the Harbor Center. Our own image of the city is being transformed before our eyes. The Medical Campus around Roswell and Buffalo General Hospital is continuing to grow.
If you make friends with the idea that a new stadium is needed eventually, and I have, you might be waking up to something else. The timing for a project as large as an NFL stadium in the city has never been better. Plug into it. Don't put your stadium in the middle of nowhere and expect it to spur development. Put your stadium near where there already is development happening and help it grow.