By Jonah Bronstein
Jim Kelly believes Niagara Falls would be a viable location for a new stadium that could ensure the Buffalo Bills’ future in Western New York, but does not feel the time is right to pursue the issue.
Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. has never indicated plans to build a new stadium or move the team out of its current home in Orchard Park, and Kelly said he’s not comfortable discussing what will happen “after Mr. Wilson” while the 91-year-old is still alive.
“He’s the guy that has kept this team in this city, and I thank God for him every day,” Kelly said after giving the commencement address at Niagara County Community College on Saturday.
“Who knows when that times comes,” Kelly continued. “When it comes, we’ll need an owner that is willing to keep the team in Buffalo, which I know a few people.
“Of course, Niagara Falls would definitely be a site because they have so many things there. They have the seventh wonder of the world, the casino, the hotels and the land. It’s closer to drawing people from Toronto.
“But that’s far off. Right now, I focus on the Buffalo Bills getting better now, because I don’t want fans to get too frustrated. I was out there watching the other day and I think this team might surprise people.”
Kelly first raised the possibility of building a new stadium in Niagara Falls in 2008, prior to the Bills first regular season game in Toronto.
Later that year, Glenn Fitzgerald, a marketing and sales manager who lives in Amherst, started a grassroots campaign encouraging the team to build a domed stadium in Niagara Falls and rename themselves the “Niagara Bills.”
That prompted Niagara County legislator Jason Cafarella to sponsor a resolution that sought to relocate the Bills to Niagara Falls.
Cafarella later modified his original “Niagara Bills” resolution to express the Niagara County Legislature’s desire to work with Eire County in any attempt it makes at retaining the Bills.