By Mark Gaughan
The Buffalo Bills are one of just 12 NFL teams that will hold training camp away from their team headquarters this summer.
The trend away from college dorm-room quarters for NFL players has grown over the past 15 years. NFL coaches like the convenience of staying in their year-round team offices and facilities. Most teams have rebuilt or refurbished their team training facilities in the past decade and have made those headquarters big enough to accommodate a training camp roster of 80 players.
The Bills could hold training camp at One Bills Drive. They have the field space available. It wouldn't be quite as convenient from a locker-room standpoint becuase the in-season locker room connected to the fieldhouse isn't big enough for 80 players. Younger players would have to shower and dress in the stadium locker room.
The main incentive for the Bills to go to St. John Fisher College in Pittsford is to maintain a stronger presence in the Rochester market, which is so important to the regionalization of the franchise.
Few other NFL teams are concerned about regionalization and selling tickets. The other most regional franchises in the league are the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, but both have no problem selling out games. Green Bay, in fact, has something like a 60-year waiting list for season tickets.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a need to regionalize but doesn't have a market nearby (like Buffalo has with Rochester and Toronto) that is as easy for the team to cultivate. The Jaguars, in fact, are "regionalizing" in the direction of London.
The other clubs that will hold camp away from team headquarters are: Pittsburgh, Oakland, the New York Jets, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Green Bay, Minnesota and Washington. All of those teams have camp within two hours of their home base, execpt for the Jets and Cowboys.
New York holds camp 3 1/2 hours away in Cortland. The Cowboys hold camp 1,500 miles away in Oxnard, Calif., outside of Los Angeles. It's generally 25 or 30 degrees cooler there in August than in sweltering Dallas.