Buffalo developer Rocco Termini floated a radical idea on Buffalo TV Tuesday morning: move the Bills to Hamilton. He thinks it's an idea that could save the team. You can see that interview by clicking the video on this page.
Termini is well known in Buffalo. He's the guy who restored the Hotel Lafayette. If the Lister Block had a twin sister it would be the Hotel Lafayette. It's an effort people in the area seem to appreciate. He's been described, in an interview with the Investigative Post, as a developer who is focused on rebuilding downtown Buffalo.
His new idea hasn't won him any new friends. He told Buffalo TV station WGRZ that he would ship the team out of Orchard Park, New York to Hamilton. He told WGRZ "the underlying problem to keep the Bills in western New York or this part of the state is our inability to sell high priced corporate suites. We're never going to do that no matter what we do because we don't have corporate headquarters."
Termini added that he thinks moving the team to Hamilton would attract high priced corporate suite buyers from head offices in Toronto. Termini suggested that the idea is not uncommon. He mentioned that the New York Jets play in a stadium that resides in New Jersey.
Termini asks Bills fan to look at the bigger picture. He said "we're not going to be here in 10 years if we don't solve the corporate suite problem we will be gone."
It doesn't look like Termini has been following the story of Hamilton's stadium debate. CBC Hamilton asked him if he knew where in Hamilton the team could play. "No", he said. " I’m floating this idea. I’m looking to start a conversation. I’m more interested in having the team here for my grandchildren"
He said he doesn't have any personal connection to Hamilton and his plan would call for the team name to remain the same. The practice facility and team headquarters would stay in Buffalo. "The only difference would be that the team would play its games in Hamilton," he said.
Mayor Bratina: 'there will be some impediments'
Mayor Bob Bratina said he contacted Termini on Tuesday morning to discuss the proposal.
"I thought it was important to contact the individual to have a conversation about what he was intending to do," Bratina told CBC Hamilton. "I provided him with some background with information and to let him know there will be some impediments."
The mayor said he told Termini that attempts to bring an NFL football team to a Canadian city will encounter strong resistance from the Canadian Football League and its supporters.
"Anything that would be seen as the threat as a viability to the Canadian would not be received very well."
He said a new stadium would need to be built to accommodate the Bills, adding the yet-to-be-built Pan Am stadium, which will eventually serve as the new home for the Hamilton Tiger Cats, will not have enough seating to satisfy NFL capacity requirements.
The mayor stressed his phone call was not intended as an expression of support for the idea, which he characterizes as a "blue-sky proposition."
"I’ll do anything in my power to ensure that Canadian football and the Ticats flourish."
Bills in negotiations to reach a long-term lease
In September, the Bills and Erie County agreed in principle to a one-year lease extension that would allow the team to keep playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium next season. County executive Mark Poloncarz announced the agreement after Bills CEO Russ Brandon raised concerns about the lack of progress in negotiations to reach a long-term deal, and with the current lease set to expire July 31.
However, a one-year extension fails to address a key concern in securing the franchise's long-term future in Buffalo. The team's founder and hall of fame owner Ralph Wilson is 93, and he spent a week in the hospital this month.
Wilson has said he has no intention to leave the team to his family, and instead plans to have his heirs sell the franchise. That opens the possibility of a new owner relocating the franchise, and makes a move less expensive if the team is not tied to a long-term lease.
With files from the Associated Press.