The Buffalo Bills have not played many big games in Ralph Wilson Stadium over the course of the last 14 years, but that is about to change on Sunday.
The team’s playoff drought has seen more than its share of losses in the Orchard Park, New York stadium, but for the first time in recent memory, Bills fans have a real reason for optimism. Aside from the surprising opening day win over the Chicago Bears, the Bills have finally erased the uncertainty over both their own future and the health of their biggest star in franchise history.
This week the team was sold to Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula for an NFL record $1.4 billion. Since the death of owner Ralph Wilson in March, there had been uncertainty over whether the team could move, and at least one bidder had plans of moving the team to Toronto.
Though the deal still needs league approval, it appears all but certain that the team will now stay in Western New York for the long term. Pegula has shown a commitment both to the Sabres and to the Buffalo area, sinking more than $150 million of his own money into a downtown development.
While the team’s future is now set, the health of Jim Kelly has also given fans a reason to celebrate. Diagnosed with a recurrence of jaw cancer earlier this year, Kelly underwent an aggressive treatment and was recently declared cancer free.
These factors have combined to make for what could be a historic home opener against the Miami Dolphins. The Bills sold out the game, and tickets normally marked for close to $50 are selling on the secondary market for $250 or more.
Fans have started the party early in Orchard Park. For the first time in team history, the Bills sold out the camper/RV lot before a game, with fans settling in Friday and early Saturday to start tailgating.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) September 13, 2014
The Buffalo Bills have advised fans to be in their seats by noon on Sunday, with a celebration of Ralph Wilson’s life planned.
[Image via buffalobills.com]