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Sports Then and Now



It’s Over In Buffalo, And That’s Not All Bad 14

Posted on December 18, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

The Buffalo Sabres are still searching for their first Stanley Cup Championship.

It’s an interesting time to be in Buffalo. For so long, we’ve depended on our sports teams to give us some shred of validation, since we’ve been known to the world for blight, blizzards and chicken wings, whose hot sauce is curiously the same shade as the rust on the infamous Rust Belt, by which we have often been defined.

More recently there have been some signs of life in Buffalo. Some say a renaissance is beginning to break out.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently concluded their most successful and best attended convention, here in Buffalo. The draw was the fact that Buffalo has more turn of the century architecture preserved than any major city in North America. Further, other than Chicago, Buffalo is the only city to have signature buildings designed by all four of the first generation of great American architects: Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan and H. H. Richardson.

At least two major architectural landmarks downtown—Hotel Statler, and Hotel Lafayette–  have been saved from the wrecking ball by visionary developers, and are being restored to their original opulence.

Buffalo is beginning to garner great reviews in travel sections of such cosmopolitan papers as the New York Times and the Toronto Star. Suddenly the rest of the world is beginning to discover and appreciate Buffalo’s cultural environment which is, in size, scope, diversity and quality, comparable to places like Chicago or Boston. And by “cultural environment,” I mean more than 20 professional theater companies, a world renowned symphony, two world class art museums, a plethora of notable restaurants, extraordinary boutique shopping, distinctive galleries, as well as more than 20 colleges and universities.

Buffalo has been a relative refuge from the global economic downturn. Housing values have continued modest appreciation. Unemployment remains at least a point below the national average’ and private sector employment remains strong.

Unfortunately, the one thing Buffalonians have depended on for a sense of purpose and validation, the Buffalo Sabres and Bills—especially the Bills– have been in decline. And despite all the other signs of regeneration in Buffalo, that still hurts, because the true religion in Buffalo is its sports teams.

While there was little hope for the Bills in the near term, the community was abuzz about the advent of a new owner for the Sabres with deep pockets, a fan’s passion, and a blatant commitment to win the Stanley Cup. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

      Read more »

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