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Buffalo is drowning in Cognitive Dissonance

chris_stevensonWith the recent announcement of the Buffalo Bills having a new owner committed to keeping the team in Buffalo, it seems on the surface chances for the proposed downtown stadium project just got brighter.

For years, there has been a general fear in Buffalo that blacks will start getting good jobs, and the crime rate will take a dramatic plunge.

Who in their right mind wants to see that?

That’s why you may have seen little or no movement of improving most local inner city parks.

A lot of us may know this has been happening, but we may have been too distracted to understand why.

But, if your local white official from these long-tenured political families hasn’t told you, it’s not because they don’t know.

Two newspaper articles from the 1950s have made the same point; more local parks reduce crime.

This was part of the reason Dold’s Park was created.

Those of you who are like me may remember the large outdoor park on the corner of William and Fillmore Streets right behind the old Howard’s Express trucking company.

An old article by Walt Wandell titled “City Parks Aid Prevention of Crime,” explained it best, even back during the ‘40s or ‘50s when it was written.

“Cities have found more and more the necessity for great recreational systems where ample room is provided for the youth to play without danger. National groups have been organized to study this problem, the principal one being the National Recreation and Playground Association. To avert crime early, a noticeable decrease in juvenile delinquency has attended the development of recreational systems throughout the country. It has been found that the city with adequate facilities of this kind is usually more progressive and more free of crime. While in cities where the growth has been beyond control and such facilities have not been provided the population presents one of the worst social problems. Both physically and economically this phase of municipal life diversity affects the progress of the city.”

This Buffalo News, or Courier Express, article written decades ago could have easily been written today.

In fact, a more recent study finds more parks having the same effects.

It’s something to think about when reading stories about how city officials drag their feet to open up some MLK-wading pools (not a full pool, a wading pool mind you), and how JFK Park pools, basketball courts and other urban playgrounds have taken so long to be rebuilt.

The goal behind the denial of services to urban parks has been directly connected to the desire of these planners to create criminals, crime, and feed the gluttonous prison industry.

According to another site, “A study of children and adolescents in San Diego, Boston, and Cincinnati found that neighborhoods that were generally supportive of physical activity for young people also appeared to have more playgrounds. Researchers examined the relationship between certain neighborhood characteristics and the number of playgrounds in that neighborhood and found that neighborhoods with higher street connectivity, lower traffic, less crime and better aesthetics were more likely to have at least five playgrounds than were neighborhoods without such characteristics. ‘Street connectivity was 13.5 percent higher in neighborhoods with at least five playgrounds, traffic was 7 percent lower, crime was 9.6 percent lower… there are socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in access to physical activity facilities such as gyms, health clubs and YMCAs. One national study found that areas with lower median incomes or higher percentages of people of color (individuals who self-report as Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc.) were less likely to have such facilities.’”

In addition, the study of parks and crime relating to the safety of cities and towns can be tied in to one more element that has been having far-reaching success today, inner-city major sports complexes.

The Buffalo News ran a story drawing on a familiar comparison, “Buffalo may want to borrow Indianapolis’ playbook for building Lucas Oil Stadium, which opened in August 2008. In preparing to build a new home for the Indianapolis Colts, city planners focused on a downtown stadium construction model designed to complement Indianapolis’ economic agenda, which included making the city a national sports mecca.”

This had been printed in the July 6 edition, without acknowledging the Greater Buffalo Sports Entertainment Complex (GBSEC), its partners Nicholas Stracick and George Hasiotis, or GBSEC vice president Patrick Freeman, even though they know fully well this group has a basic site already targeted along the downtown Buffalo Outer Harbor.

Not to mention several columns where I have presented the same comparison.

And, a more recent Buffalo News piece by Jerry Zremski stated Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz have been “reluctant to sink money into a new Bills stadium when the state and county just paid $130 million for renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park.”

But, first of all, if you must know; this is what Poloncarz wants you to think for the time being.

He is, in fact, open to a new stadium, maybe in Buffalo.

He’s not as ABA (Anyplace But Buffalo) as some believe.

Poloncarz just hasn’t come to terms yet with what looks like the inevitable; the downtown stadium on the Outer Harbor.

In fact, Poloncarz was fully aware of the plans before he made the deal to renovate the Ralph; he just spent his time running from the idea.

How could our county executive blind himself to what everyone else around the NFL knows?

It’s the people who brought the GBSEC plan that he seems to have a problem with.

Plans that don’t include him, or the interests of his backers.

It’s a pro-taxpayer proposal with the partners putting up 70 percent of the building cost.

It’s a pro-people plan that promises year round living-wage jobs due to it being a retractable-dome entertainment facility.

Think AYM, all year money.

This is where the cognitive dissonance sets in.

Poloncarz wants no part of it, and, if he could have his way, all discussion of it would be censored.

His rushed talks to plaster the crumbling Ralph seem to be saying to us, ‘it’s still in the suburbs, shut the hell up.’

A return to the cognitive-proof ways of 1970s Buffalo would suit Mark just fine.

During the years we had the Buffalo Braves here, fans loved them.

But, several white businessmen hated them.

While they were rising up in the win column, they were losing points in the war against their NHL Hockey co-tenants, the Buffalo Sabres.

Both teams began playing during the same season (1970), and both became playoff contenders the same year (1973/74).

The tragedy of that is, Buffalo being an either/or city, didn’t feel they had room for three successful major league sports franchises (even though they obviously did) with all of them playing downtown, and two in the same arena.

This sentiment was even harbored by the people who ran War Memorial Auditorium.

They favored the Sabres, giving them the choice nights on weekends, Saturdays.

Subsequently, Buffalo was knighted a hockey town due to its close proximity to Canada.

Today, that problem would have been solved with another auditorium being built.

Since the Braves moved west, that area has seen both another auditorium and a pro-baseball field built.

It is the last three years of the Braves we will briefly focus on, a lesson in ‘we hate winning.’

Their last winning season was 1975/76, they went 46-36.

The next year they only won 30 games, and dropped out of playoff contention.

What happened to make them take such a drastic plunge?

Remember this was before the free-agent craze of today.

The following season-their last here in Buffalo-the Braves won only 27 games.

In between that time strange things were happening.

Longtime owner Paul Snyder was selling the team.

Truth be told he began making plans to sell them while they were still a playoff contender.

And, during the same ‘75/76 season of the Braves’ last playoff run, the ABA’s (American Basketball Association) Kentucky Colonels won their league championship.

They were owned by the wealthy-but-unpredictable- John Y. Brown.

After the season, the rivalry between the two leagues ended with the junior league’s five strongest teams being invited to merge with the NBA.

The price was $3 million to get in.

Brown, instead, took a $3 million deal to shut his championship team down.

Claiming he was fed-up with pro basketball, he bolted leaving only the Nets, Pacers, Spurs and Nuggets to join the league.

Soon after, he bought into a team that won only 30 games that year, the Braves.

Brown signed veteran Nate Archibald, and re-signed Randy Smith (by then an all-star), but traded Rookie of The Year Adrian Dantley to Indiana for Billy Knight.

But, even more disturbing than losing Dantley was the ‘76/77 season, when the Portland Trail Blazers traded Moses Malone to the Braves.

He played only two games, and was actually traded to Houston for two first-round draft picks.

To add to the irony, Portland’s coach was Jack Ramsey, the just-departed Jack Ramsey.

It was his first season in Portland.

They would go on to win the NBA Championship that same year, the championship that would have been Buffalo’s, either in ‘76/77, or a year or two later.

Buffalo didn’t want it.

When I say Buffalo I don’t mean the fans, even the hockey fans would have loved it.

And, it’s doubtless Ramsey wouldn’t have let Malone out of his grasp as easily in Buffalo-especially with McAdoo having just been traded to the Knicks-as he did in Portland.

The Blazers already had Bill Walton.

Just imagine the future Hall of Fame big man playing alongside the league’s fastest player, Smith, and the young gun Dantley.

What you had was the first sign of the willful destruction of a major Buffalo area team.

Buffalo being a “hockey town” is the going excuse for why the Braves couldn’t remain.

Try asking Scotty Bowman.

I don’t think he would agree, he was able to win a Stanley Cup (at least two Stanley Cups) in most cities he coached… except Buffalo.

This is one of the least talked about and most embarrassing aspects of Buffalo history-by omission.

Bowman didn’t win a cup in St. Louis either; he just took them to three Stanley Cup Finals in their first three years in the league.

Those were also his first three years as head coach.

He won five in Montreal, one in Pittsburgh (another one in Penguins front office) , three in Detroit (one more in Detroit’s front office), and two in the Chicago Black Hawk’s front office.

He served in Buffalo much of the time as coach, and GM.

No Stanley cup, or even a finals appearance.

Now, any explanation for this gap in Bowman’s record would be greatly appreciated, but my guess is this city is cursed. (Ijs.)

It’s championship-proof in just about everything.

When you let your leaders make bad decisions for so long, it’s as if someone put roots on you.

This leaves us with a disturbing question.

What does Buffalo want?

Buffalo is looking for silent results, which find only whites being prosperous while hiding from blacks, or blacks being pushed out into the suburbs, and out of the way.

At the very least, the increased jobs would lead to an indirect reduction in crime.

Buffalo decision makers (all white businessmen) know this all too well, they basically orchestrated the present conditions that lead to this disparity.

There are some outdated studies that opponents of a Buffalo Downtown stadium use for their cause.

But, what the GBSEC has planned is more than just a stadium.

Rochester’s Strong Museum is onboard to provide a facility, a hotel is in the planning, not to mention restaurants, bars and other potential businesses.

I’ve written before how a handful of affluent people are trying to put a stop to all that.

They want the Buffalo area to be affluent, not Buffalo.

Yes they are aware of how these ideas work in other cities.

They couldn’t care less.

Cities like Buffalo, Detroit and even Chicago have been earmarked to be crooked cop/prison industry pipelines.

Some of you need your officials to openly admit this to make you believe it.

The advantage for local officials like Poloncarz, Congressman Brian Higgins and Mayor Byron Brown has been, since the stadium conversation has been taking place during their terms, they can easily take credit for it.

Get on board now and most people will forget you were adamantly opposed or stand-offish months from now.

Start kissing this baby immediately fellas.

There’s no place like dome.

Chris Stevenson is a regular columnist for blackcommentator, and a contributor to the Hampton Institute, his own blog, and a syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter, and Facebook. Watch his video commentary Policy & Prejudice for clbTV & Follow his Blogtalkradio interviews on 36OOseconds. Respond to him on the comment link below or email