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18.10.2018 06:24
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Following years of discussions, Chris Koch will never forget the moment the Buffalo Bills sold him on the idea of transforming Ralph Wilson Stadium into what became New Era Field on Thursday.It happened near dusk on June 15, when the New Era Cap Co. president and CEO was whisked by police escort to the Bills headquarters and ushered to midfield where he was greeted by team owners Terry and Kim Pegula. Thats when the west-end scoreboard began displaying a three-minute video highlighting the legacies of Kochs late father, David, and Bills late Hall-of-Fame owner Ralph Wilson, and emphasizing what both meant to Buffalo.Ive got to tell you, I had tears rolling down my face, Koch said during an interview with The Associated Press. And Terry came up to me and said, `Look, we wont do this with anyone else. We want you.Walking off the field, Koch recalled how New Era executive Paul McAdam leaned over and, in his thick Scottish accent, said: You must do this deal.Seven weeks later, a naming rights agreement with the Buffalo-based sports headwear and apparel company was reached in a deal worth more than $35 million and spanning the remaining seven years of the stadiums lease. New Era also has the rights of first refusal to extend the deal under a new lease or if the Bills build a new stadium.For me, this partnership is personal on so many levels, said Koch during a news conference to unveil the new name. To have New Era associated with the Buffalo Bills, who are incredibly well-respected brand, with a rich history with the NFL and our community, is a significant honor and a privilege that I dont take lightly.For the Bills, the deal generates revenue to a small-market franchise that has at times struggled to remain competitive, and forced to regionalize east into Rochester and north into Toronto to broaden its base.For New Era, the agreement marks a coming-out party for a company established in 1920 by Kochs great grandfather, Ehrhardt, and has become a world leader in sports-related headwear in large part because of the inroads David Koch made during his 30-year tenure as president.The company has gone from producing 50,000 caps in 1920 to 50 million last year, which were sold in more than 80 countries. New Era also has more than 500 licensing deals, including Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL, Manchester United and the Australian Football League.Ralph Wilsons name went up on the stadium during the 1998 season, after a 25-year agreement expired with Buffalo-based Rich Products.In 2012, Wilson gave approval for the team to pursue a naming rights agreement. That plan was put on hold when he died in March 2014. The Pegulas, who bought the Bills seven months later, elected to wait at least a year to secure a deal out of respect to the former owner.Today we look to the future, and today we turn a page in Bills history, Terry Pegula said. Ive been told by people who knew Ralph -- I never met Ralph -- that Ralph would be proud to turn this page with us.Wilsons widow, Mary Wilson, supports the name change.I love Buffalo, and with all of the resurgence that its enjoying right now, its fitting that the new naming rights agreement is with New Era, Wilson said in a statement released by the Bills. Naturally, theres an element of sadness for me personally, that I hope fans would understand. But Im excited for the Bills organization and for New Era with their successes. Its so great that a local company of this magnitude will be on this stadium.Jim Grinstead, publisher of the industry newsletter Revenues from Sports Venues, considers the naming rights agreement an ideal fit for Buffalo and for the NFL, because of New Eras ties to the league.Buffalo is probably not going to attract a Pepsi or Coke or Nike or anyone like that, Grinstead said. But a local one is going to feel good because the local folks in Buffalo do care about the local community and the ties with that.The company will get an immediate boost in prime-time exposure during the Bills home opener, a Thursday night game against the New York Jets on Sept. 15.The New Era logo will be featured on the back of the scoreboard facing the main parking lots and throughout the stadium. Because the agreement was reached so late in the summer, some of the signage wont be ready until next season.The agreement is exciting to Koch because he grew up a Bills fan and attended each of the teams four Super Bowl losses in the 1990s.I have goosebumps talking about it, Koch said. Its my hope that New Era, quite frankly, can match up to the legacy and the standards that Ralph had.And hes pleased to build Wilsons legacy by partnering with the Pegulas, who also own the NHL Buffalo Sabres.I admire the Pegulas for not going out and finding a big bank to give them a lot of money to slap a name on the stadium, Koch said.He cant help but wonder what his father might think of how far New Era has come since he died in 2002.When he died, we were a very small, U.S.-based baseball company, Koch said. So to be able to have the success weve had and grow the way weve grown, it kind of hits me right in the heart.---This story has been corrected to reflect Ralph Wilsons name went up on stadium during 1998 season.---AP NFL website: and AP NFL Twitter feed: . DAmigo scored twice in regulation and added the shootout winner as the Toronto Marlies edged the San Antonio Rampage 5-4 in American Hockey League action. .C. -- Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Bobcats got off to a fast start, and the Sacramento Kings were never quite able to catch up. . "Hes going to have hip surgery on Jan. 7, and hell be expected to rehabilitate for four to six months beyond that," Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said Friday in an interview. . "It doesnt get any better than that," Giambi said. "Im speechless." The Indians are roaring toward October. Giambi belted a two-run, pinch-hit homer with two outs in the ninth inning to give Cleveland a shocking 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night, keeping the Indians up with the lead pack in the AL wild-card race. .com) - The women will also have a new champion at the Australian Open.ENDICOTT, N.Y. -- It has been 33 years since the Champions Tour was born, and its newest champion is somebody special: 50-year-old rookie Bart Bryant is the tours 1,000th winner. Bryant, who shot a tournament record-tying 10-under 62 in the second round to build a four-shot lead, closed with a 72 on Sunday and finished at 16-under 200 to beat Russ Cochran (67) and Corey Pavin (69) by one shot. "It was a difficult day for me. I just never really felt settled," Bryant said, his family standing by his side. "I really didnt play great. Somehow, I managed to get it in. I think we all feel very blessed at the moment to pull this one out." It was a memorable moment for Bryant and the senior tour, which began in 1980 at the Atlantic City Country Club in Atlantic City, N.J. Don January, who won that first tournament, was on hand to congratulate Bryant and hand him the trophy. "We thought there might be a market for us old guys," the 83-year-old January said. "We was just interested in getting enough to make a living. There were a bunch of us guys in our late 40s and early 50s still trying to play the (PGA) tour and wasnt being very successful at it. Yet we felt like we could still play a little bit." The inaugural year consisted of four events. The purse at the Atlantic City Senior International was $125,000 and the total prize money for the season was $475,000. January took home $20,000. Bryant, whose best previous finish this season was a tie for fourth at the 3M Championship in his last start two weeks ago, pocketed $270,000 of the $1.8 million purse. "Truthfully, when we first started we had no idea how long it was going to last, or whether it would even be successful," January said. "We thought we had a pretty good product, but we werent sure of anything. I never thought in that realm of 1,000 tournaments. My god, thats forever. Its come a long way. Hopefully, it will get better." For, Bryant, who won in just his 14th start on the circuit, it was his first victory since winning the 2005 Tour Championship, ending a drought of 7 years, 9 months, 11 days. He also won the 2005 Memorial and the 2004 Valero Texas Open on the PGA Tour. That was before two surgeries on his left wrist relegated him to spectator status for nearly three years and left him wondering if hed ever play again, let alone win. "I dreamed about it. I envisioned it. I dont know if I believed it would happen, especially after I did the first surgery and it failed," Bryant said. "I dont know if I really bought into the belief that it could actually happen this quick." Bryant, who held the largest lead entering the final round of this tournament since its inception in 2007, vowed nott to play conservatively because the narrow, tree-lined En-Joie Golf Club course was yielding lots of birdies under near-ideal conditions.dddddddddddd Luckily for him, nobody made a winning surge on a day where pin placements made going real low somewhat more difficult. "I just made a lot of pars out there," Bryant said. "For some reason, I just wasnt going today with the putter. I dont know if I got a little nervous. I really struggled. Just lucky that nobody got real hot." The key to going low at En-Joie is to keep the ball in the fairway, and nobody did it better than Bryant over the first two rounds. He was a model of consistency, hitting 10 of 14 fairways each day and reaching all but two greens in regulation. Small wonder he was the only player in the field to avoid making a bogey the first two days. That consistency vanished with Bryants first shot Sunday as he hooked his drive at No. 1 into the left rough. He hit just 4 of 7 fairways and reached only five greens in regulation on the front nine. His errant shots finally caught up to him at the par-3 fourth hole when he overshot the green, pitched back past the hole and over a ridge well past the pin and made bogey. Pavin, alone in second at the start of the day, was unable to make putts that were there for the taking on the front and parred every hole. Four birdies and one bogey on the back side werent enough, his putt for birdie at the closing hole missing by inches. "I just couldnt get anything going," Pavin said. "Hats off to Bart. He made a lot of short putts that he needed to make, which are very hard to make under pressure." Cochran, six shots behind after two rounds, reached 13 under with three birdies in his first seven holes to move into second. He reached 16 under with three more birdies on the back, but bogeyed the closing hole and was left wondering what might have been after Bryant did the same. Bryant finally broke through with birdies at Nos. 8 and 9. He spun his third shot at the par-5 eighth hole to within 2 feet, eliciting a nice cheer from the gallery, and calmly sank a 10-foot putt at No. 9 to go 17 under. "That calmed me down a little bit and gave me a tad of breathing room," Bryant said. "All I really could do was stay patient. I just didnt have much of a game. I dont know if it was the nerves or what. I felt like that was my only chance, to stay patient and not force the issue and hopefully do something at the end to separate myself." He parred the next eight holes before bogeying 18, missing a terrific opportunity after driving to 7 feet at No. 17. "I probably have to get a lot stronger mentally," Bryant said. "Hopefully, this will propel me." 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