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Bill’s Ticket Move Boost For Baseball

phil ranallo     

WHAT’S NEW, HARRY? November 29,1980

(Preamble by Chris Wendel)  Several things happened to me today that led to the reprint of this 1980 Phil Ranallo column. First was reading a Facebook post discussing the concept of an outdoor stadium in downtown Buffalo. Next was a friend (who grew up in LA) asking me why Buffalo never had a major league baseball team. The last was seeing this column in a pile of papers in my office. This column has a little of everything: The questioning of Ralph Wilson’s motives, discussion of a stadium that could breathe life into an ailing downtown, and the prospect of major league baseball in Buffalo. Enjoy this work from “Courier Express” sportswriter Phil Ranallo:

RALPH WILSON’S sale of those 35,000 tickets to Pennsylvanians for last Sun­day’s Bills-Steelers game may one day may one day be labeled a godsend by advocates of major league baseball for Buffalo.

Last weekend’s happening — the influx of out-of-towners and their two-fisted spending — served as a fine example of what a big league baseball franchise could do for our town.

Revelation that the invasion of all those Steeler faithful may have had as much as a $l-million economic impact
on the community had to open a lot of eyes.

I’m talking about the eyes of all — the city and county fathers’— as well as the residents of the area, many of whom have long opposed construction of a stadium suitable for major league baseball.

WHAT TRANSPIRED last weekend —-the business the visitors brought to our hotels, motels, restaurants, taverns, etc.—could be the greatest possible advertisement for construction of a baseball stadium in downtown Buffalo.

It should provide the Erie County Sports Board with, ammunition in its fight for such a facility.

Perhaps Ralph Wilson had all this in mind when he made the decision to hus­tle tickets in Pennsylvania for the Bills-Steelers game.

It’s my guess that Wilson would do anything in his power to help Buffalo build a downtown stadium and land a big league ball club.

I’m sure Ralph isn’t averse to a big league baseball team being located here and competing for the Buffalo sports en­tertainment dollar.

LAST WEEKEND’S goings-on were unique for a regular season pro football game. Almost all the fans, generally speaking, hail from the area represented by the home team.

Not so, though, in, baseball.

A baseball team with its long home stands, does something that neither a pro football team nor a hockey team does. A baseball team attracts fans from hundreds of miles.

Many of these fans spend theirvaca­tion  time or weekends in the baseball town. They stay in your hotels and mo­tels, dine in your restaurants, shop in your department stores, patronize your theaters, etc.

Why, a big league baseball club per­forming in a beautiful stadium at the Crossroads would even lure people from suburban Buffalo to the central city.

PERSONALLY, I feel that construc­tion of a new downtown stadium — to accommodate a, major league baseball team would ‘be the most progressive step this community could take.

It would be good for some of the things that are ailing Buffalo — terrific for the city is economic growth and the attrac­tiveness of the downtown area.

With major-league baseball as part of our Buffalo life, sports fans would have somewhere to go during this communi­ty’s current sports-dry months — from May to September.

They’d have a baseball club to root for — something that would put a little fun in their lives.

And at reasonable prices, since base­ball — unlike pro football and hockey does not turn the pockets of its customers inside-out

THE SAD PART of all this is, it could have happened here in Buffalo long ago. Your newspaper the Courier Express thumped the tubs for a downtown stadium in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

And it definitely would have happened, had it not been for those certain people in certain quarters.

Our head-in-the-sand leaders, men with lack of foresight, acquiesced to the dictates of those selfish certain people!

They built Wilson his 80,000-seat football-only stadium in Orchard Park and thereby slammed the major-league baseball door on Buffalo —and for that baseball fans in Montreal and Toronto will be forever grateful.

Those Canadian cities landed big league baseball franchises, either of which could have been Buffalo’s — if we had the proper leadership.

THE COMMUNITY’S current leaders may get the chance to correct the colos­sal blunders of their predecessors.

The economic impact the visitors from Pennsylvania had on this area last week should enable our leaders to provide the state with a strong argument for state funding of a new stadium in downtown Buffalo.

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