History of the New York City Buffalo Bills Backers

Hello all (400 of ya!),

I hope you all had a nice and safe holidays! We figured that since the first season of NYCBBB is over, we would write and let you know how it was all started, so below is the history of how everything came together to result in the success that we experienced in NYC this year. ENJOY!

Also, we plan on using our web page for anything Buffalo-related in NYC, as a link between former Buffalonians and the Queen City. Please keep checking our site for details and updates and send us any links, events, or info you may have that Buffalonians in NYC would be interested in!

HISTORY OF NYCBBB

Back in the mid-80’s, Buffalo Bills fans around the city began to meet up at a bar on the Upper East Side to watch their Bills. The name of the bar was originally “Name this Joint”, then the “Rugby Club” and finally “Brother Jimmy’s”. The bar would show the game with the sound on a large screen TV in the back, and lines would form out front to get one the prime seats. However, with each name change of the bar it became less and less of an official Bills bar and after the 2000 season, they decided to change direction and televise all games and give no special treatment to the Bills fans that had patronized them on Sundays for years.

At this same time, I had graduated college (lets go Fordham!) and was looking for a place in the city where I could watch Bills games. I looked on the official Bills site and saw that Mark Bishopp was the President and contact person. Mark had been in charge of the Backers at the old bar for a few years and told me about the upcoming change in the bar policy. Since he travels for his business he has trouble being at every game and asked if I could help him run things. It was agreed upon that I would go to the bar and get email addresses from all the fans there and we would begin to find a new bar. That very weekend I intended on going to the bar to do just that when I missed my train to the city, so I figured I would just go the following weekend.

Unfortunately, that particular Sunday that I missed my train was September 9th, 2001. After 9/11, Mark and I decided that we would wait until the following season to reform the NYC Bills Backers.

During the following off-season, I luckily met Matt Soreco, a native New Yorker and lifelong Bills fan that had never watched a Bills game in NYC with other Bills fans. Matt offered to help Mark and I out, especially with designing a web page. We decided to throw a draft party in April since the Bills had the 4th pick. We posted on message boards and created a web page to get the word out and picked another bar on the Upper East Side for everybody to meet at. Draft day came and we had about 25 Bills fans show up and spent the day watching our team select key college prospects. We made sure we had everybody’s email, started to keep a list, and NYCBBB started to take shape.

We now had a list of Bills fans, a web page, and a promising upcoming season. All we needed was a bar that would show the Bills game with sound and offer an affordable beer and wing special. The three of us spent the summer going to different bars around Manhattan and talking to owners about our group. One of my friends owned a portion of a large bar on East 42nd Street that received a small football crowd on Sundays (I was one of them!). After several emails and beers, the NYCBBB had a new home…McFadden’s! They offered to show the Bills game with sound on a big screen TV and give us a wing/beer special, and most importantly, accommodate us as we grew!

The first game attracted about 20 people. We figured we’d be happy if we got 150 people to show up by the end of the season. Little did we know that we would have more than that within 3 weeks! Every week there were more and more fans showing up, and we experienced growing pains, like running out of wings and beer! By week 9 we had filled McFadden’s with over 350 Bills fans. We decided that we needed to make Sundays at McFadden’s more “Buffalo-ish”, so with your suggestions we brought in Labatt Blue and the owners agreed to start making the wings with Franks Hot Sauce. As one fan said, “being in McFadden’s on Sunday is like being back in Buffalo”.

By season’s end, we had over 400 addresses on our email list and a great foundation to build on at McFadden’s for the 2003 season. We never expected it to grow this much so fast! None of this could have been possible without the spirit of Bills fans in this great city. Planning is already underway for off-season events and for the Buffalo Bills 2003 season, which looks very promising, both for the team and for NYCBBB. Please feel free to keep sending us suggestions.

GO BILLS!!!

— Matt Kabel

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