In exchange for granting the NFL an
anti-trust exemption necessary for the NFL-AFL merger, the late commissioner
Pete Rozelle assured Congress that none of the 25 franchises involved in the
merger would be moved.
He said "Professional football
operations will be preserved in the 23 cities and 25 stadiums where such
operations are presently being conducted. This alone is a matter of
considerable public interest – to local economies, stadium authorities and
consumers. Without the plan, franchise moves and/or franchise failures will
occur as a matter of course within the next few years."
What Pete Rozelle promised would not
happen.... has been happening for over 30 years.
Teams have moved to other cities –
lured by bigger markets and the construction of new stadiums that generate more
money for the owners. Almost all of these stadiums were built using billions of
dollars in taxpayer money.
Some people would argue that this is
just free-market enterprise and that owners should be allowed to move their
business anywhere they want to. In fact, the courts ruled - over the objections
of the NFL - that Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders could move to LA in 1982. Since then, the owners have cited that court ruling
to say their hands are tied and they can't prevent this from happening in other
the owners themselves can prevent this from happening.
Commissioner, Roger Goodell says he wants the Bills to remain in Buffalo, but
the owners have the final say on that issue. It will be hard for them to say no – especially
if the relocation of a team can generate more revenue for the League. Remember,
the owners share revenues, so if the pie gets bigger, they all reap the
If the NFL won't keep the promise made
by Pete Rozelle, then it's time for Congress to step in. They hold a
considerable amount of leverage because they have the power to strip the League
of its not-for-profit status.
Yes, you heard right. The NFL is a
not-for-profit organization, because Congress gave them tax-exempt status in order to facilitate the merger of the NFL and the AFL.
want the team to stay in Buffalo for the same reason that all fans of pro
football want their teams to stay – it's a great source of entertainment and a
great source of pride for our community. If we lose the Bills, we lose a piece
of our heart and soul.
the former players that have made Buffalo and WNY their home, it would be
especially disheartening. Our local Bills Alumni organization has raised over
1.2 million for local charities and the United Way and the Buffalo Bills collaborated to raise a record $21.3 million in 2013. Ubfortunately, that fundraising would probably dry up if the Bills
left for greener pastures.
Wilson always wanted the Bills to stay in Buffalo and he showed us that by
signing what some experts are
most ironclad stadium lease they have ever seen. Nonetheless, in just six years the lease will allow the new owner to
leave for a mere $28.4 million penalty.
Our Congressman, Chuck Schumer said "The lease has many, many
safeguards that make it hard for the Bills to move over the next 10 years. This
gives us the time to explore and evaluate all potential options for keeping the
Bills in Western New York, so that we can present whomever the next owner is
with viable and well-thought-out plans to keep the Bills here well beyond the
next 10 years."
NFL owners should honor the memory and legacy of Mr. Wilson by keeping the
Bills where they belong – in Buffalo.
the owners won't do it, then Congress should step in and flex their muscles.
Senator Schumer isexploring and evaluating all potential
options for keeping the Bills in Western New York, he needs to remind the NFL owners how
they got their tax-exempt status and their anti-trust exemption – and how they
can lose it.