Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

November 8, 2010

Franchise in Ralph’s hands, but does Toronto want our NFL team?

LOCKPORT — While the Fox Network pushed the Canadian football tradition during the Chicago-Buffalo NFL game Sunday on television, fans at Finnan’s were pragmatic about the report that the Bills would split home games with Toronto.

“I’ve heard rumors,” said Justin Superczynski, a 22-year-old Ryan Miller look-alike who was wearing a golden slug Buffalo Sabres cap. “Money talks. If they get enough money, then see you later, Bills. I wouldn’t mind ... I like them, but I go with the Sabres. It’s all about money. It doesn’t matter what we think. It’s what Ralph’s family thinks. They’re going to sell it to the highest bidder.”

Ralph Wilson, 91, bought the American Football League franchise for $25,000 in 1960. Now the NFL team is worth a reported $800 million.

“It depends on how long Ralph lives,” said  Andy Bedient, 22. “It’s a tricky situation. As it stands now, the family doesn’t want the team, so they’ll sell and it will probably be to the highest bidder and that will be Rogers Communication.”

Bedient added, “If it happens, I won’t be a Bills’ fan. I can’t support a team that isn’t going to support my area.”

Megan McAvoy, 23, a teacher’s aide, was upset by the report of a split. “I like going to the games and I hear you can’t tailgate if you go to Toronto. ... That’s why people won’t go.”

Despite the Fox commentators’ line, there’s a question as to Toronto’s interest in the Bills. More fans seemed to be cheering for Chicago at the Rogers Centre, which seats 54,000 for American football. Ticket sales have been stagnant.

Wilson attended the game, which Chicago won 22-19.

“With $78 million, I think Ralph is laughing all the way home,” said Norton Kinsley. “I don’t see a whole lot of hype in Toronto about them being there.”

Kinsley thinks a move to Toronto is highly unlikely.

Molly Lutz and Mike Shubbuck said that a split season would be a horrible idea.

“We’re the Buffalo Bills, not the Toronto Bills,” Shubbuck said. “To have us splitting the season with Toronto, it would make us the Toronto/Buffalo Bills and that’s not a good idea. I don’t like it.”

 Lutz said, “It would take away from Buffalo and I don’t think any season ticket-holder would want to spend their money to go to Toronto for half the year. It would take away from the whole Buffalo Bills’ atmosphere.”

Tom Sarratori, owner of the sports bar, said, “I care, but I don’t think it will happen. I haven’t heard that myself. It would bother me. It’s good to have a hometown team. I need it here for business.”

His son, Tom Sarratori, said, “I hope they’d still be here, but I can see them leaving. I heard something about that, but I don’t think that will happen. It’s so far in the future. I think if there’s talks of a split, it will just wind up being there full-time anyway.”

Ben Domagala, a student at Starpoint Central, said, “It’s unsettling. The Bills are my team, I always want them here. It’s really not a high-market place here. If Toronto’s bigger, they’re going to do it and I guess I’ve got to deal with it.”

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