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Book Review: Nowhere Else You'd Rather Be

Review by Budd Bailey

Well, this is a little awkward.

The Buffalo News came out with a book on the 50-year history of the stadium in Orchard Park ... only days after my own book on the history of the Buffalo Bills was published. I don't think anyone expects me to say that the News' book is the only football publication you should buy this year.

But on the other hand, The News was my employer for 23 years. And some friends of mine, including Corey Desiderio, Mark Gaughan and Jay Skurski contributed to the News' book. I would expect a worthwhile effort from these fine journalists, and they delivered one.

"Nowhere Else You'd Rather Be," adapted from the famous quote from Marv Levy ("Where would you rather be than right here, right now?"), sticks to the story of the stadium. That means the Bills will receive the lion's share of the pages, but not all of them.

The story starts with the arrival of the Bills into War Memorial Stadium in 1960. A decade later, with the team snugly a member of the National Football League, it was obvious that the Rockpile had outlived its usefulness. A new building was needed if the Bills wanted to stay in Buffalo. The process was pretty ugly, particularly the conviction of some politicians on bribery charges. But Rich Stadium (The first suggested name was "Coffee Rich Park," by the way) eventually got built. It opened on August 1, 1973.

The book sails through the various eras in Bills' history, highlighting some games along the way. I had to laugh when I saw that some of the quotes about those games turned up in both books. From there it's on to the owners, top players, records, and fans. Then the subject changes to football from other events that have taken place at the Abbott Road complex. This includes hockey, rock concerts, college football, and high school football. We wrap it up a short section on the new stadium.

I had been told that this book would includes original stories from the events that took place in the stadium. We see reproductions of such text in the form of images of clippings and full pages of The News. But the text is generally original.

The photos in the book come from The News' archives. This publication really does show how good the photographers at the facility have been over the years. Too bad we don't know who took each one, since most shots are uncredited. I did do a double take at a photo used to introduce a story on 2008's Winter Classic. The News allowed me to use that shot for the cover of a book I did on Buffalo's sports history in 2013.

"Nowhere Else You'd Rather Be" is something of a classic coffee-table book, with images you'll want to look at frequently. I suppose I can get away with saying that the text almost by definition has to be a bit more superficial than my book, considering the difference in the word count. But it's fair to say that the two books compliment each other nicely. You certainly could get away with buying and reading both of them.

(Follow Budd on via @WDX2BB)

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