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Build a dome in Orchard Park

ORCHARD PARK – Now do you believe?

More than once this season, the Buffalo Bills have had nighttime home games during winter months.

Doing this in December is bad enough.

But doing this in January can be even worse.

Because in Orchard Park, football games are outside.

Does this ever enhance home-field advantage?

Yes, but not when the Bills play teams from places where conditions can also be harsh for home games in December or January.

Even when games begin at 1 p.m.

When games begin later, they’re played in whole or in part when it’s dark.

In December and January, there’s no sun to provide light and keep anyone warm after 5 p.m.

Is the weather always bad in Orchard Park in December and January?

No. During the 1990s home-playoff games, there were surprisingly few bad-weather home games. It was, for example, relatively comfortable for The Comeback, the famous game against the Houston Oilers in January 1993.

Yet we can spin the wheel only so many times before our luck runs out.

Anyone who has endured – is “survived” a better word? – bad-weather home games in December or January knows they can be way more than an inconvenience. They can be way more than a nuisance.

They can be dangerous.

Let’s repeat that: They can be dangerous.

Let’s repeat that again: They can be dangerous.

To players, to coaches, to those otherwise working in or around the stadium, and to fans.

Having tens of thousands of people outside for a sporting event, especially in the dark, in this climate during winter months can also be foolish.

All of us deserve way, way, way better than this.

There is only one good solution.

Only one.

Only one.

The opportunity to implement the good solution probably comes along only in building a stadium.

Which will happen for the Buffalo Bills in the coming years.

Discussions about the new stadium have begun.

Every decision – especially basic-design decisions – in building a stadium can have consequences for the life of the new stadium.

If the new stadium lasts as long as the current one, it will be around for half a century.

Think about that: Those who are only high-school pupils when the new stadium opens can be senior citizens half a century later.

And those who are elementary-school pupils when the new stadium opens can almost be senior citizens half a century later.

If in building a stadium we don’t implement the one good solution, we’ll regret it.

You know we will.

It won’t take long. It won’t take long at all.

There can be no serious doubt that we’ll regret it.

We’ll regret it during the first bad-weather home game in the new stadium in December or January.

We’ll ask ourselves: Why didn’t we implement the one good solution?

But by then, it will likely be too late. We’ll likely be stuck with our mistake for half a century.

What is the one good solution?

You know the answer, gentle reader. You know the answer.

The answer is to build a dome – or a stadium with some kind of roof, retractable or not – in Orchard Park.

Nothing short of that suffices.

Minneapolis-St. Paul has done it. Indianapolis has done it. Detroit did it long ago. Even Atlanta, New Orleans, and Houston did it long ago. We can do it too.

When we do it, we’ll celebrate our success for years.

We’ll appreciate our success during the first bad-weather home game in the new stadium in December or January.

The danger will be outside, not inside.

And we’ll be proud, thankful, and glad that we did this right.

Randy Elf has been a Bills’ fan since he was little.

ç 2022 BY RANDY ELF

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