By Matt Sabuda:
Nike introduced their new NFL uniforms this week. With the exception of the Seattle Seahawks, most uniforms didn’t see much change.
The Bills have added a white collar to the jersey and a Bills logo to the pants. Since the Bills and the rest of the NFL are making tweaks, why not make a splash? It would be an innovative recognition of the Bills’ unique international fanbase if they included a permanent patch on their jerseys that displayed both the American and Canadian flags. Below, it could read “Buffalo” under the American flag and “Niagara” under the Canadian flag.
Building a fanbase in Toronto is an encouraging work in progress. But the immediate reality is that there are an abundance of diehard Bills fans right across the border that live within 25-30 minutes of Ralph Wilson Stadium on a good bridge crossing day.
There are nearly 500,000 residents in the Niagara municipality of Ontario. If the Buffalo market didn’t face enough market-skewing invisible borders, this uncounted immediate fanbase is yet another. If it weren’t for an international border, the immediate Buffalo/Niagara market would be closer to two million people. Add Rochester to the official figures and the true market is well over three million.
It would make sense from a brand building/recognition perspective, while also acknowledging what has long been a reality. Plenty of Canadians make the trip to Orchard Park every Sunday to cheer on their Buffalo Bills just like Western New Yorkers.
In WNY, Canadians are a part of the culture, whether it be at area malls or bumping into them at the Buffalo/Niagara airport. In WNY, Canadian and American flags fly side by side nearly everywhere of prominence including directly in front of Buffalo’s City Hall. In an interview with Canada’s National Post, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said “I’m one of the few elected officials in the United States who looks out over Canada from his office every day.”
The NFL talks about being an international game. The Bills have an opportunity on their uniform to officially stake their claim that they are and have been for some time, the NFL’s original international team.
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