The Bills evaluated two options for training camp locations in 2021. After evaluating St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, NY and the team's practice facility at One Bills Drive, the Bills have finally decided the site for this year's training camp.
The team issued the following statement this 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.
Prior to the 2020 season, the Bills held their last 20 training camps at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, NY (2000-2019).
Scroll through to see the best photos from Week 2 of Bills OTAs.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane said making the tough decision to stay in Orchard Park was one that required time, constant communication with the league and a trip to St. John Fisher to see if they could make it happen.
"We were trying every which way we could to make it work," Beane explained. "But in the end, as we sit here today, the current protocols just make it really hard for us to do what we need to do and not be a distraction for our team, with all the distancing, and some things would just have to be virtual that we can do in person here with this setup. So we just decided the best way to get our team ready for our season was to do it here again this year."
Beane mentioned multiple times he and head coach Sean McDermott would have loved to have it at St. John Fisher College because of their setup and the relationship building that happens there. After having camp at One Bills Drive last year, Beane explained there are positives to look forward too.
"I think the one thing is guys have access to our facilities," Beane said about having camp at home. "The Pegulas put a lot of money into here and they're getting use of it now, which is very helpful and then in the season. You can't replicate what we have here. The reason for the getaway is just the team camaraderie building, which still happens here. It's just you don't get the stuff at night maybe because guys have obligations to go home or things that pull them away."
When taking all things into consideration when it came to where camp would be located, Beane said it had nothing to do with player vaccination numbers.
"It's actually zero to do with the vaccines," Beane shared. "It's literally the protocols that we're operating under right now. The league updates them, but they don't tell us when it will happen. And as of now, we have certain things that have to be distanced, how we do meals, how the locker room space is. All of that stuff as we sit here today, no matter who's vaccinated and who's not, those are the rules that we're under."
On July 21, 2000, the Bills opened training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, New York, after 19 years of holding camp in Fredonia. With 2019 Bills Training Camp, presented by Connors and Ferris, nearly underway, take a look back at camp through the years.
One thing many Bills fans and players loved about having training camp in Rochester was the ability to host open practices so fans could watch their squad get ready for the season. Beane said they are hoping to make something like that happen at Highmark Stadium this year.
"We love being able to involve our fans in camp, so we're having internal discussions," Beane said of plans to host fans. "We always have that scrimmage a week before the preseason game. We're looking at that, plus another opportunity or two. Nothing's in stone, but we're trying to find some ways to have some open practices in the stadium so that we can allow our fans to come."
Buffalo's contract with St. John Fisher College is up, so future training camp plans are not set. Beane explained Bills owner and president Kim Pegula will take the lead of training camp conversations for next year.
"I know there'll be discussions down the road with the representatives of St. John Fisher about what that would look like," Beane said of future camp plans. "But at the end of the day, we're just focused on this year. I'll let Kim and them handle what it looks like going forward."