Bills CEO Russ Brandon spoke today from St. John Fisher where the team is getting ready for training camp this week:
Russ Brandon: I want to thank everybody for coming out on a nice, cool day. As we do this every year, this is sort of the kick off to training camp. We are excited to be here. As a reminder, as many of you know, we were able to come together on a long-term extension with St. John Fisher a year ago. The reason we picked this location (new grass field) to have you all out today is because this is one of the elements of our arrangement with Fisher. With having the new grass field--which is outstanding.
Want to thank St. John Fisher, most notably President Bain for all of his efforts and all that Fisher has done for us. We have the finest summer home in the National Football League. It is because of the efforts of Dr. Bain, the senior staff and all of the faculty here at St. John Fisher. It is just a tremendous place to get ready for the season. We are excited to be back. It is sort of amazing that it is here. But we are excited to be here.
Donald Bain: Along with welcoming students back for the autumn semester, welcoming the Bills back to St. John Fisher and to Rochester. It is probably the high point of my year. We could not be more pleased with the partnership. Over the many, many years we have had this enduring relationship with the Buffalo Bills Russ and I have always said that what we like in any arrangement is win, win, win. Win for the Buffalo Bills. Win for St. John Fisher College. And win for the Rochester community.
We feel with this addition to the facilities that we are providing the Buffalo Bills a partnership that is strengthened even more. We are delighted to have them back. We look forward to a wonderful season and also welcoming all the fans from around the area to enjoy the Buffalo Bills' summer training camp.
On the excitement around the team after the offseason additions:
RB: I think for all of us it is the time everyone has been waiting for to get here to St. John Fisher. The minicamps are over, the OTAs are over and now the season is upon us. We are all excited. It is time to put the paper to the field. And we encourage our fans to come out to Fisher. As everybody knows, the night practices are widely popular. People also need to know our afternoon practices are great access. It is very under the helmet. It is very family oriented. It is a great opportunity for fans to come out and get close to their favorite players.
On how much more functional the additional grass field will be for the team:
RB: Last year we wanted to take a look and see how it worked. It just became a little bit difficult operationally. With the corporation of Dr. Bain and the addition of the new field, there is a lot of excitement in house amongst our football people. How we navigate that logistically will be much easier. To be on both fields, we have the stadium turf obviously, but we like to be on grass. It will allow Coach Gailey and the coaching staff to get done what they need to get done.
On the logistics about the new field area:
RB: It is going to be a work in progress because of the new field but we are going to have fans surround the fence area here. We are going to work in conjunction with Coach Gailey and the staff on where offense and defense is as a team. We will probably keep a majority of the team work on that side (Track Field). But again, it is new, so we are going to have the opportunity to work with Coach and see how it fills in with the fans and one thing that we do a very good job here. This is a credit again to Fisher is how we move people throughout the campus. Our main concern for our fans is they have a safe and enjoyable experience and we think that the way we have this setup it will work out very well.
On whether the new field was the only addition necessary to continue holding training camp at Fisher:
RB: From our standpoint it was really, "what could we do?" We needed a third field. And Coach and Buddy Nix, our general manager, and all of our football people played a role in how we constructed this program over here - so everyone was very pleased. We had been over here throughout the course of the winter and in the spring to see how the field took over the winter. Thankfully we had a mild winter and we feel that it is ready to go and we should get done everything we need to get done with the footprint we have in front of us.
On potential challenges faced by practicing on grass instead of turf:
RB: We have been practicing on grass here for years with the way it was constructed previously. We have a grass outdoor practice field at our facility and we're on grass a majority of the time during the course of the year, so we don't anticipate any issues with that.