The first day of Buffalo Bills Training camp feels an awful lot like the first day of college. Moving into your dorm, eating your first meal in the cafeteria and finding meeting rooms. The fact that the camp is actually held at a college facility is pretty much why it feels like the first day on campus. The question is, should an NFL team still be using a college campus as a location for a three week preseason training facility?

Recently there was a story published that revealed many more NFL teams use their stadium facility to hold camp than a college campus. It certainly makes sense when you consider all the infrastructure that teams lug over to campus are already installed in the team stadium facility.

When the Buffalo Bills decided to move their training camp to St. John Fisher College it was hailed as an example to the rest of the league as how to properly market a training facility. Then Sales & Marketing VP Russ Brandon used the Fisher location to also sell the team in the Rochester market, which is an important one for the Bills. Season ticket sales has shown that the move was a smart one and Rochester certainly feels more engaged with the team.

Fredonia was a good location for camp and closer for the Buffalo media and fans, but the team doesn’t sell many season tickets in Fredonia. The St. John Fisher facility had better facilities, a proper football stadium for night practice and all in all a better setup.

If the Bills held camp at Ralph Wilson Stadium the players who are already on the roster would sleep in their own beds and eat breakfast with the family as opposed to 100 other guys. The training staff would have all of their own equipment at their finger tips and coaches would work out of their actual offices. The only limitation right now would be a lack of locker room space for that many players in the practice facility, but the stadium across the parking lot has two more locker rooms that would serve the purpose.

The day will probably come when the Buffalo Bills do move training camp to Ralph Wilson Stadium, but I doubt it will be on President Russ Brandon’s watch. Brandon is a Fisher alum and very much involved with the college and community, too invested to move camp out of Rochester. Plus the marketing efforts in Rochester have paid off and at the end of the day the NFL is a business, big business.

For now the ritual of setting up training camp is part of summer for Bills fans. Every night they tune in to local news to watch 30 seconds of a new player making a good catch or a rookie quarterback getting picked off in seven on seven drill. The internet has improved that coverage, but it still leaves fans wanting more and actually looking forward to watching the starting unit play just twelve plays in the first preseason game.

The trip to the east side of Rochester will some day go along the way of the trips to Fredonia in the 80’s and 90’s and the shorter drive to Niagara University before that. Everything eventually changes, but for now the three week camp at St. John Fisher College is business as usual.

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