Me: 31 year old born and raised Buffalonian and Bills fan, now living out west in Montana (we’re everywhere), studied Urban Planning at UB so safe to say I’ve thought about the Bills AND especially their stadium (location change, complex redesigns, dome addition possibilities etc.) a LOT in my life.
The classic Orchard Park wind experience both teams went through last night really got me thinking about our stadium once again and weighing what a newly built dome would mean to our franchise. I ended up with this opinion: it would sterilize it. It would make us just another dome team with perfect playing conditions every single week. Even a new outdoor stadium would alter things, its existence nullifying the knowledge gained by the likes of Jim Kelly, Andre Reed, Steve Christie and Brian Moorman that could be passed down to the likes of Allen, Diggs, Bass and Bojorquez. If McBeane haven’t already brought those NFL alumni in as wind consultants then they damn well should. The Ralph’s wind is especially weird, it’s just a fact of nature meeting man-made design. Lake Erie wind + Ralph’s shape = inconsistent swirls.
If there’s one thing we can relate to as Bills fans it’s a lack of consistency. I think this feeling is intensified for those of us lucky enough to grow up in WNY and then even more so in those of use that were lucky enough to attend Bills games growing up as well, no matter what era the team was in. Life hasn’t been easy for Buffalo and Buffalonians be it our local economy or the sports teams. We’ve faced more adversity in both than most cities can say. Yet we’re here. We’re alive. And dare I say thriving? We owe it to that big, beautiful, old building every chance to prove it can do the same. I believe the lack of consistency in the swirling wind inside that building is a tremendous asset toward home field advantage. And that’s not to mention the energy brought in by the crowd of multi-generational Bills fans all walking through the same tunnels for decades.
In the long run, if our team is successful and keeps winning The Ralph will be held in the same regard as Lambeau Field, Soldier Field and Arrowhead Stadium (if it isn’t already). Which is simply put: pretty fucking cool. My hope is we can create a unified fanbase front of historical preservation and desire to maintain our homefield advantage as much as possible. We’re a small market team for now. We don’t need a modern stadium to attract ticket buyers, even when we suck. If anything the nostalgia and singular experience the Ralph provides would lead me to believe a new stadium may actually drive some ticket buyers away. If the Red Sox tore down Fenway Park there would be riots in the streets of Boston. For the first time in my life ever I say: let’s channel a little New England sports fan energy on this subject. Let’s make sure the Pegulas and the NFL are 100% aware how much we love our field.
Defend our dirt, find a way, don’t let the ghost of Ralph Wilson haunt the wrong team, let’s keep letting him blow alllll the Justin Tucker kicks around that he wants (and hopefully inspire Tyler Bass to practice in the stadium whenever it’s windy out). GO BILLS!!