The Buffalo Bills moved their training camp facility to the Rochester area in 2000 in an attempt to further regionalize the franchise. The architect of the move was a St. John Fisher College alum who brought Bills camp to his alma mater where it’s been ever since. With the firing this week of team president Russ Brandon, it’s the latest sign that a sleep-away training camp for the Bills might be a thing of the past.
The writing on the wall began even before Brandon’s firing. In 2017 under new head coach Sean McDermott, the Bills held fewer practices in Rochester than ever before. Just 13 sessions were open to the public and only one of them was after work hours; one night practice was held in Pittsford while another was held at the team’s facility in Orchard Park.
The Bills built two new practice fields adjacent to their field house at One Bills Drive in the last two years, certainly giving themselves enough space to house training camp. Buffalo is one of a dwindling number of NFL teams who still have practices at a separate location, sequestering players away from their families for weeks at a time.
New president Kim Pegula grew up in Fairport and no doubt sees the benefits of the Rochester-area connections. She released a statement Friday attempting to alleviate the fears of people who would like to see training camp remain at its current location.
“We really enjoy our summers at training camp at St. John Fisher and the relationship we continue to have with the school,” Pegula said. “We have four years remaining on our current agreement with them and preparations are already underway for camp this summer. Rochester is an important market for the Bills, our entire company, and for me personally, being that it’s my hometown.”
The Bills have an agreement to stay at Fisher until 2021 (but they could always buy out the remaining years on the deal).
Dates for the 2018 training camp have yet to be announced.