ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — In what may perhaps be the last sports cancellation caused by COVID-19 (fingers crossed), the Bills will not be holding their training at St. John Fisher College for a second consecutive summer.
The team issued the following statement on Monday afternoon:
The Buffalo Bills today announced they will hold their 2021 training camp at the ADPRO Training Center in Orchard Park, NY.
The Bills informed St. John Fisher of their intentions over the weekend and appreciate their efforts to try to accommodate the Bills this summer. However, due to the complexities of the NFL’s current COVID-19 health protocols in place, the team decided to stay in Orchard Park for a second consecutive summer.
Bills training camp is slated to begin in late July. Exact days and times of practice will be announced at a later date.
The move was strongly hinted by Sean McDermott when the head coach spoke with media before his team began their OTA practices. McDermott said he thought holding camp in Rochester would be a “heavy lift”.
McDermott added that the team was going to fully investigate the possibility of returning to Fisher for camp. However, that option was clearly not palatable.
While the NFL has mandated that coaches and staff all get vaccinated, players are not required to do the same. The end result is many COVID-19 protocols in place to keep teams safe last summer must still be implemented for, at least, the start of this season.
The Bills already COVID prepped their home facility last year. It was no small undertaking. It would have required nearly the same effort to ready Fisher to host the Bills this summer.
St. John Fisher’s contract to host Bills camp expires after 2021. There was no extension granted after camp was canceled at Fisher last year and there is not expected be any years added on to the deal because of the change this year.
Unless there’s an about face and an extension is agreed upon, Bills training camp is now a “free agent” and could, theoretically, be held anywhere next summer. McDermott has often praised the value of going away for training camp, so a return to Rochester in 2022 is certainly possible. There have been discussions between Fisher and the Bills about continuing training camp at the college.
It would be unfortunate if the highly successful and popular partnership between Fisher and the Bills concludes with two unexpectedly empty summers at the Pittsford campus.