There aren’t too many fanbases in the NFL, or perhaps in all of sports, that are more infamous than the supporters of the Buffalo Bills.
Whether it’s a passionate member of Bills Mafia willing their team on at Orchard Park shirtless during a 20-degree day, or someone being pile-driven through a table during a spirited pregame tailgate, it’s hard to find a more loyal group of fans than the base the Bills have.
"Mafia" means a lot of things to a lot of people… But if you're a Buffalo fan, there's only one true definition that can be used. "Mafia Means Family" caps are now available! https://t.co/bU9Ugkk862 #BillsMafia pic.twitter.com/0I9WIsavUt
— 26shirts: Buffalo (@26shirts) July 26, 2021
That’s why it came as a bit of a shock when the Pegula family, who currently owns the team, floated a possibility of moving the franchise out of Buffalo.
The Bills have been a fixture in Western New York since their AFL days began in 1960.
Despite that lineage, ownership is trying to get a new taxpayer funded stadium to replace the current facility, and are using other NFL team-less cities as leverage to make that happen.
It was floated that the Bills would consider moving to Austin, Texas if progress on their wishes were not met.
It’s extremely difficult to imagine the Bills playing anywhere outside of Buffalo, since their home-field advantage is one of the best in the NFL.
— The #BillsMafia (@BuffaloFAMbase) July 16, 2021
However, as a thought exercise (look away Bills fans), we’ll pontificate about three cities which could welcome them if they decided to relocate.
3. St. Louis
The gateway city has been used as a pawn in the NFL relocation game before.
In 1995, St. Louis brought in the Rams, who made their way out of Los Angeles.
The city wasn’t quite ready to receive the team upon their arrival, and the Rams had to play a few home games at Busch Stadium, better known as the venue where MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals play.
Later in their inaugural season, the Trans World Dome opened for business, and little did we know, an identity would be created for the nomadic franchise.
In 1999, one of the more iconic offensive teams in league history was born, as quarterback Kurt Warner stepped in and led “The Greatest Show On Turf” all the way to a Super Bowl title.
As it turned out around 20 years later, the dome ended up being a main reason for the Rams leaving to return home to Los Angeles.
If given the chance at another NFL franchise, it’s possible they would be more prepared this time.
2. San Diego
A San Diego relocation for the Bills would just be bizarre, admittedly.
As a city whose weather might be the most immaculate in the country, San Diego’s t-shirt and shorts vibe all year round would be hard to reconcile with the Bills’ wind chill and blizzard mystique.
In addition, the Chargers and the Bills have been doing battle since their AFL days in the 1960’s, and more recently for AFC supremacy in the 1990s.
While they’re a tough match to imagine on paper, San Diego seems to be more viable as a home city than another major city’s secondary act.
The Chargers have learned the hard way that relocating to a location with a lot of other attractions makes it difficult to establish roots.
At least the Bills would be the only NFL show in town, and the San Diego faithful would probably relish the chance to fall in love with a team again.
If the Bills wanted to keep their small town persona alive and well, there are a ton of cities across the United States they could choose from.
However, perhaps no city would be more intriguing or deserving to have a chance at hosting the Bills than Portland, Oregon.
By comparison, Portland is actually much larger than Buffalo, with a population approximating 650,000 (Buffalo only has around 250,000).
But their reputation as a rabid fanbase small-market sports locale is well respected.
They’ve been home to the NBA’s Trail Blazers for 51 years, and have been an excellent addition to Major League Soccer in the last decade.
The Portland Timbers have a strong following and a raucous atmosphere playing at Providence Park.
There figures to be enough passion leftover to support an NFL team with the same fervor in northwestern Oregon.