While a looming extension to the team's series of games in Toronto has been garnering the most news recently, that doesn't mean the Buffalo Bills are ignoring their other regionalization efforts. CEO Russ Brandon and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick both spent part of Wednesday in Rochester, and reiterated the team's commitment to their regional partner.
"I think it's important for us to have a presence here in Rochester just because there's a lot of support for us here," said Fitzpatrick before the Rochester Press-Radio Club Dinner of Champions. The annual dinner raises money for children's charities in Rochester, and features big-name sports talent. This year, Eli Manning was named Sports Personality of the Year, while other recent winners include Drew Brees and Cal Ripken.
"We want to give it back to the community and be able to come to events like this and the one David [Nelson] was at in order to say thank you and meet some people that are here," continued Fitzpatrick.
Nelson was in Rochester on May 18 meeting fans and signing autographs at the annual Lilac Festival, Rochester's largest annual event. He also introduced one of the musical acts, with Brandon tweeting out this photo.
In his speech during the dinner, Fitzpatrick thanked the Rochester community for their support of the Bills and mentioned his affection for the area. Having been in three different team's pre-season camps, Fitzpatrick would have some knowledge of how they are run around the league.
"It means a lot for us to be here," said Fitzpatrick. "For me tonight, I get a chance to meet some of you guys and get a chance to come and say thank you. We really do appreciate the support and we enjoy having training camp here. Just to reiterate what Russ said, he's a little biased, but as a player I think this is the best training camp in the NFL."
The Bills moved their training camp to St. John Fisher College in suburban Rochester in 2000. Brandon spoke of the team's new extension with Fisher to house training camp for another five years, and discussed the region's importance to the Bills' sustainability.
"The Rochester fan base has long been instrumental to the success of the Bills at One Bills Drive," Brandon told the media at the dinner. "We came to Rochester over a decade ago and moved our training camp here. It's been very, very successful and we're excited that we have entered into a new five-year extension with St. John Fisher and plan on being here long term. Rochester is key to the long-term viability of the franchise."
Brandon - a Fisher graduate - has previously estimated that the Bills get 15 percent of their revenue from the Rochester area. Training camp returns to Rochester in late July as the Bills begin preparing for the new season.