The answer to that question may have something to do with the people who were responsible for building the Bisons a taxpayer-supported stadium downtown in the first place. Remember how exciting it was when the Bisons moved into their new stadium and local mogul Bob Rich of Rich products lobbied Major League Baseball to let us into the clubhouse? “Build it and they will come” was the mantra of the “Field of Dreams” era and nobody believed it like we did. Then the Colorado Rockies robbed us of our one at-bat and Bob “Moonlight” Rich went back to his other favorite pastime of throwing buckets of money at Republican politicians.

But in one of the great sporting events with profound implications for Buffalo to go unreported, Bob Rich and his wife Mindy, apparently had nothing short of an epiphany. In 2003, just one year before the dawn of the Super Hurricane Era on North America's Gulf Coast, Bob and Mindy had an excellent adventure! They took part in an athletic competition that was almost as physically demanding as NASCAR racing. They won the Islamorada Fishing Club Captain’s Cup in the Florida Keys, consummating a love affair with fishing that may have its first offspring in the form of a Bass Pro Shop in Buffalo!

As in business, serious sportsman must do what it takes to win, which in the case of the coveted Islamadora Captain's Club meant that the Buffalo power couple had to put together a serious game plan. Since it was the “Captain's Cup” they decided to recruit not one, but three captains. Salary Cap, my ass!

According to Islamadora Sport Fishing (yes, there is such a publication), “Rich put together this captain-heavy team at the last minute. “Originally, the plan was for (Captain) Albury and Rich to fish it on (Rich’s boat) the ‘Circe.’ But Rich’s back went out, and his boat, “Circe” was still in a Palm Beach boatyard days before the tournament.”

For all of you ignorant landlubbers in Buffalo, Circe, of course, was the name of the sorceress that turned Ulysses’ sailors into swine in Greek mythology, but we disgress.

Even though Bob Rich was injured, he overcame the pain. Together with his fair bride and their dream team, this great Captain of Buffalo industry prevailed, reeling in a total of five sailfish to beat out twenty-two other boats and winning the Islamadora Captain's Cup for Buffalo. (Actually, one of the captains Rich hired did the reeling, but that’s what teamwork is all about)

An obsession was born! Whether it was in the course of fundraising for George Bush or through their participation in this breathtaking sport for the very wealthy, the Riches hooked up with legendary sports fisherman and Bass Pro Boss, Johnny Morris and the rest, as they say, is history.

Mindy was put on the board of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. as an ex-officio member to persuade other Republicans to shell out sixty-six million for Mr. Miller's fishing business. She's ex-officio because she doesn't live here. (You can't expect her to abandon the Florida Keys because of a few hurricanes, after all.)

Pretty soon Buffalo will have another silver bullet project we can all sit back and admire. The combination of Bass Pro and competitive sport fishing has been predicted to draw four million people to downtown Buffalo each year by the Buffalo News. That’s roughly the same tourist draw as the Eiffel Tower in Paris (that;s in France, Bills fans).

Keep in mind that before Ernest Hemingway took up snow skiing with his wife Martha Gellhorn, almost nobody in the States had heard of skiing. Before Hem went to the Florida Keys almost nobody had heard of the Keys. Likewise, before the Riches obtained government money for the Buffalo Bisons, nobody had heard of them.

Now that the Riches have gotten the sports fishing bug and are digging around in government coffers, doubters and cynics will probably be proved wrong once again, but, personally, I wouldn't bet the Islamadora Captain's Cup on it. by John McMahon

Many local sporting events aren't given their due because of this area's obsession with major league sports. When the Bisons failed in their bid to join the major leagues, attendance dropped way off, and the City of Buffalo was left with a bill of about a half million dollars of upkeep on the ballpark each year.

Now the Bisons have a chance to repeat as champs of the International League, but all you hear about is the Buffalo Bills and the buzz surrounding the new taxpayer supported Bass Pro Shop. Jonesin’ for a Bills fix was well documented in the movie “Buffalo 66” but since when did fishing become bigger than America's favorite pastime in Buffalo?