I’d lived all of my 4 years in the suburbs when Sports Illustrated did an expose on Buffalo’s problems with major league sports as part of its Super Bowl III coverage.
One of my earliest memories is of my dad going to a Bills playoff game – no doubt the January 1, 1967 loss to Kansas City for the right to face the Packers in the Super Bowl.
Reading that article today is an amazing time capsule back to that time, when Buffalo was a top 20 market for spending and television … and that was without counting the Canadians across the border.
It also highlights some bit I didn’t know:
- Buffalo expected to get an NHL team in 1966, but instead St. Louis got a team they hadn’t even applied for.
- Buffalo expected to get a National League baseball team in 1969, but the franchise was awarded to Montreal instead.
- The Bills were considering moving over new stadium issues in 1969 – to Seattle!
- The (football) Bisons of the All-America Football Conference, as one of 3 profitable teams, expected to join the NFL with Cleveland and San Francisco, but the third slot went to Baltimore.
The article implies that the St. Louis, Montreal and Baltimore deals were all dirty.
The article also discusses the stadium plans at that point. The choice was between a location downtown, or one about 5 blocks from where I grew up (near what is now ECC North). I was cognizant of enough in the 1970’s to recall the lawsuit and settlement when Rich Stadium was ultimately built in a third location.
The article makes no mention of the Buffalo Sabres, who would be playing 20 months after publication. Only that the ownership group would apply for a franchise the next time the NHL opened the doors.
It also makes no mention of the Buffalo Braves, the NBA team that couldn’t make a go there in the 1970’s (maybe because they stunk). They also started playing 20 months after the article appeared. Eventually they landed as the Los Angeles Clippers (and they still stink).
There’s also no mention that Buffalo did have a National League baseball team in the 19th century, or an NFL team in the 1920’s.
Hat tip to JT.