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Thoughts on Masters, Bills and Sabres

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Posted: Saturday, April 12, 2014 11:45 pm

Some random thoughts heading into today’s final round of the Masters:

n It’s no secret that I’m not and never have been a Tiger Woods fan. And that won’t change even if he eventually decides to declare himself also an Asian — in deference to his mother — with the same pride he shows in being African-American, in his father’s honor.

That said, the Masters just isn’t the same without him.

I can almost guarantee this year’s TV numbers will be down as compared to when Tiger is in the Masters field.

He’s like the Yankees ... like or detest them, you watch.

When Woods plays, both his defenders and detractors tune in. That’s true of any tournament, but with the Masters in particular.

n Say what you want about Darcy Regier, the fired former Buffalo Sabres general manager, he did have a burst of candor last summer.

Regier couldn’t have been more accurate when he declared the team’s fans should be ready for more “suffering” in the coming season.

Of course, that was a product of the mess he actually created ... but at least he anticipated what he had wrought.

When the season mercifully ends early this evening, the Sabres will have the NHL’s worst record by some 15 points ... or at least seven wins fewer than the next worst team.

Buffalo missed the playoffs for the fifth time in seven seasons, its 51 points going into tonight’s finale against the Islanders at the First Niagara Center are the fewest in any campaign when the Sabres played at least 80 games, and the 154 goals are easily the lowest of any non-strike season in their history (next worst was 190).

n Are you as amused as I am at the sudden dialogue about a new stadium for the Bills?

The minute politicians get involved, absurd rhetoric is sure to follow.

Let’s start with the obvious.

If there’s serious thought about building a new stadium — and the team’s management has been decidedly quiet on that issue — why in the name of Cookie Gilchrist is $130 million being spent to upgrade “The Ralph?”

Wouldn’t that money be better utilized directed at a new facility?

And here’s another reality.

Not every resident of Erie County — which already has major financial problems — is a Bills fan. And the last thing many of its taxpapers want is to be funding the luxury of a limited use stadium that will cost in the hundreds of millions.

Ditto those who pay taxes in New York ... especially those downstate.

It’s a tough sell at a very bad time.

And it also comes as HKS Inc. of Dallas has helped propose a private investment to create a Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex that would include a 70,000-plus seat stadium with a retractable roof on the city’s Outer Harbor waterfront site.

But that effort has gained little traction or publicity.

Meanwhile, it would seem, though 41 years old, the current stadium, with appropriate upgrades, is fine.

A new facility doesn’t figure to draw droves of new fans ... with the possible exception of December games when the weather is nasty, and then only if that stadium is covered. The Bills have always drawn well for the first three quarters of the season ... where they are now.

And how about that suggestion of a new stadium in Niagara Falls?

Nothing solves the problem like relocating to a community crumbling even more than Buffalo.

The reasoning is that moving the stadium closer to Canada encourages more fans from across the border to buy tickets. Of course, that means those who support the franchise from Rochester and the Southern Tier either drive farther or endure a more problematic trip.

These politicians ... you’ve gotta love ‘em.

(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at cpollock@wnyti.com)

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